An open-ended cease-fire between Israel and Hamas
went into effect at 9 p.m. on
Wednesday, eight days after Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense and
after a particularly harsh day for the citizens of Israel.
A bus bombing
in Tel Aviv and an escalation of rocket attacks from Gaza made the cease-fire
difficult to stomach for many Israelis, and according to opinion polls, the
majority oppose the truce agreement.
They will no doubt voice their views
in the days to come, and have their say in the national elections called for
January 22. The cease-fire marks the beginning of an election campaign that is
now expected to focus on the merits of the deal brokered by Egypt.
not forget that the operation was born of the necessity to halt the incessant
rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza, and not to start a new cycle of
Israel has always been a peace-loving nation, and resorted to
taking up arms only because it was forced to by its enemies.
celebrations of victory witnessed in the Gaza Strip following the announcement
of the truce, the government and the military are confident that the IDF
operation dealt a harsh blow to Hamas, its leaders and weapons arsenal. Although
IDF ground forces were ready to enter Gaza, it would have been a risky endeavor,
possibly resulting in many Israeli casualties.
While many Israelis might
be angry that the military operation has been stopped, many also heaved a
collective sigh of relief that our soldiers’ and civilians’ lives would not be
Egypt, it should be noted, ultimately played a
positive role in pressing Hamas to agree to a truce. The US and the
international community, led by the United Nations, also played a key role in
brokering the deal.
The nations of the world were mostly sympathetic to
Israel’s right to defend itself and strike at terrorists indiscriminately firing
rockets at Israeli civilians, but the tide appeared to be turning, with many of
them urging Israel to exercise restraint and not to carry out a ground
Shortly before the cease-fire with Hamas went into effect,
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign
Minister Avigdor Liberman by his side – said Israel reserved the right to renew
its battle against the terrorists in Gaza if they continued to
Netanyahu said he knew that there were Israelis who wanted a more
extensive operation against Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza, but
the government had decided to give the cease-fire a chance.
that Operation Pillar of Defense had achieved its primary goal of restoring calm
to the South and exacting a heavy toll from terrorist groups, destroying
thousands of rockets aimed at Israel.
The prime minister pointedly
thanked US President Barack Obama for his “unwavering support for Israel and its
right to defend itself. Netanyahu said he and Obama had agreed to cooperate
against the smuggling of weapons to terrorist organizations, “weapons that
arrive mostly from Iran.”
Strong support from the Obama administration
and the superb success of Iron Dome in intercepting many of the deadly rockets
fired at Israel over the past week have been the most welcome developments of
Operation Pillar of Defense.
Now that the two governments have cooperated
on achieving the cease-fire, it may signal the continuation of close relations
between Jerusalem and Washington. It proves that despite perceived tensions
between leaderships, the two sides can work well together when it
Under pressure from the US, Egypt may now begin playing a more
positive leadership role in stabilizing the region. And if the Palestinian
Authority would abandon its pointless bid for statehood at the United Nations,
this would also be the time to resume peace negotiations.
rests on whether the cease-fire lasts. The real test will be the situation on
the ground. And if there is peace for a period, as we all hope, the spectrum of
political parties can now concentrate on providing us with their visions for the
We call on our leaders to make the most of the period ahead to
build up our relations with the outside world, and stand together in a united
front against terrorism.
Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups
funded by Iran must know that they dare not attack Israel with impunity again.
Next time, the government in power may not let them off the hook so quickly.