A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
January 9, 2009--Day Fourteen of War with Hamas,Hamas and Israel Reject Ceasefire
The United Nations approved a resolution on the Gaza conflict last night. The resolution called for the sides to reach an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. It also made a vague call for the end of the rocket fire. The resolution passed unanimously, with the United States abstaining, and not voting against, thus voting for the resolution. The resolution is considered advisory only, as it makes no direct demands, just calls for the sides to reach an agreement.
A short time after the resolution was reached, Hamas announced it was not a party to the discussions, and thus it was not required to follow them. Its spokesman made clear that it was going to ignore the resolution. Hamas acted promptly on its statement and this morning increased its rocket fire on Israel. By noon it had flred 30 rockets and missiles on Israel, including to the distant targets of Ashdod and Beersheva. (see below)
The Israeli cabinet met this morning to discuss the resolution and the future of the war. Even before Hamas started firing rockets, the general sense was that most of the ministers would oppose a ceasefire, feeling the mission had not yet been accomplished. Hamas' very rejection of the ceasefire says it all. It does not feel enough pressure to agree to a ceasefire. On the other hand, there was the concern among Israeli ministers of seemingly ignoring the UN. Once the missiles started landing the decision was easier. The cabinet decided to continue the mission and possibly move on to stage 3. The official statement at the end of the meeting was that Israel has never allowed any external body determine its security. The government went on to say the IDF will continue its operations until its reaches its goals.
That means Israel may shortly begin stage three of the operations, the seizure of the major urban centers of Gaza. Tens of thousands of reservists have now completed their training and they will be deployed into Gaza in preparation for an assault on downtown Gaza City and other urban centers. The operation will have to be done quickly. Israel does not have a great deal of time. First, the American Presidential inauguration is ten days away. Second, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is going to get much worse quickly. UNRWA's decision to suspend food distribution in Gaza is going to make things much worse, and that is of course the goal of Hamas. This morning mortars were fired at the Keren Shalom crossing, when Israel was transferring food into Gaza. Their goal is to make things as bad as possible for the people of Gaza.
This evening there are reports of increased fighting in Gaza, with dozens of Hamas men killed. There is a sense that Hamas may be in a worse situation than they are letting out. Israeli sources report that over 400 of Hamas’ security forces have been killed. While the initial view was that Hamas pulled back, away from the Israelis as part of a strategy, there is now some evidence that their fighters are simply refusing to fight the IDF ground forces. In addition, there is now a real sense of anger at Hamas on the streets of Gaza. People are asking why they have not done anything to protect the people of Gaza. Instead, Hamas is using the people to protect their leadership.
There are now signs that Hamas is trying to reach a ceasefire. This evening, two of their top men have gone to Cairo to try to negotiate. As long as Israel keeps up the pressure, the terms of that ceasefire will be better for Israel.