The Jerusalem Post and other media are reporting an announcement by Egypt, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority that a Gaza truce will begin Thursday at 6:00 a.m. The ceasefire agreement does not provide for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit (photo right), who was kidnapped by Hamas in a cross-border raid almost two years ago. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Labor Party) said that while the ceasefire announcement was premature, a truce would provide an "opportunity" for the "renewal of negotiations" to free Schalit. That statement as much as confirmed that Schalit's freedom was not part of the truce arrangement.
Even Vice Premier Haim Ramon (Kadima Party) described the ceasefire as a "victory for radical Islam." At a conference at Haifa University, Ramon remarked:
"I am against a truce, because it is another triumph for radical Islam. It won in Lebanon and now it is about to win in Gaza. So what is the point of being moderate? Why would Hamas be interested in a resolution?"
Ramon and two other Israeli cabinet ministers had obstained from a Cabinet vote last Wednesday to forego a large-scale military operation in Gaza in order to continue ceasefire negotiations.
Ramon is right. This is another victory for Hamas. Although the ceasefire may provide a temporary respite from incessant rocket and mortar barrages for the beleaguered citizens of Sderot and southern Israel, that assumes that Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al Aksa Martyr's Brigade and other terrorists will actually observe the truce, which unlikely. What is more likely is that Israel will abstain from aerial attacks and military raids, thereby allowing Hamas to smuggle even more sophisticated weapons and rocketry into Gaza. Then, when it is ready to use those weapons against Israel, it will declare an end to the "hudna" and renew fighting. The result is that the eventual cost of defeating Hamas will be even higher.
In light of that forecast, the only justification for a ceasefire would have been the release of Gilad Schalit. Israel has now abandoned that justification, and has abandoned Gilad Schalit to his fate in the process.