Israeli News: A Daily Analysis

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

January 13, 2009--Day Eighteen of War with Hamas, Israel Advances but End is Near

Day 18 of the war and all signs point to the war ending in the next few days. 18 rockets landed in Israel today. The IDF has been very successful in reducing the number of rockets being fired on Israel. Most of the firing has been inaccurate. Hamas has lost most of its positions for firing rockets and it is now doing them from improvised sites.

On the ground, the IDF is slowly but surely advancing deeper into Gaza City. They continue to have an increased number of gunfights with the Palestinians. There have been a few Israeli soldiers wounded, but Israel continues to move forward without serious opposition.

This brings us to the question about how the current fighting will end. The outlines of an agreement are now clear. Stage one will be ceasefire agreed to by both sides. The next step will be an agreement on controlling the Egyptian border. Next will be an agreement on opening the border crossing and then and only then will Israeli troops withdraw from Gaza.

It took two to reach an agreement, but it looks clear today that Hamas is ready to reach and abide by one. Observers believe that Hamas Prime Minister Haninya’s speech last night, that I characterized as close to a white flag as possible, was directed as much to Hamas in Damascus as it was to Israel. It seems that Hamas in Damascus has received the message. Reports tonight from Gaza indica te that Hamas is clearly worried about losing control of the Gaza Strip, either to the IDF, or even more worrying to Hamas, to a popular uprising. They are very worried about the people’s reaction and it has become clearer and clearer that Hamas has not had success in a very one sided war that has hurt the civilian population of Gaza terribly. Of course there is always the possibility that Iran will try to undermine any agreement.

A small side show took place in the last day when Prime Minister Olmert openly discussed publicly the claim that he had called President Bush to get him to change the vote on the UN by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The US administration publically rebuked the comments by Olmert asking for a clarification. While clearly Olmert has done better this time around, it is unbelievable that the IDF has been led once again in war by the same man who led Israel in the Second Lebanon War.

Three articles are worth reading Ethan Bronner wrote a good article in the NYT Israelis United on Gaza War as Censure Rises Abroad. The Wall Street Journal had article written by Bret Stephens called the No-State Solution depressing but worth reading. Time Magazine has a cover story call Why Israel Can't Win.