A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
January 14, 2009--Day Nighteen of War with Hamas, Hamas Indicates It's Willing to Accept Egytian Ceasefire Proposal
Day 19 of the war between the IDF and Hamas has ended. The war will likely come to an end in the next two or three days. On the ground, Israeli forces continued to advance with only limited opposition. 16 Israeli soldiers were wounded today, one seriously. The IDF has advanced into new areas of Gaza. 18 missiles were fired on Israel today. Keep in mind that Israel had expected Hamas to be able to continue to launch 100 rockets a day at this point in the combat.
The main stage today has been on the diplomatic front, with Hamas more or less agreeing to the terms of the Egyptian ceasefire proposal. I write "more or less", since they did not officially accept the proposal, but hoped it would be successful and said it was the only proposal on the table. They have given their "opinions" on the ceasefire proposals to the Egyptians. The Egyptian government claims Hamas has accepted the proposals. Tomorrow, Amos Gilad will go to Cairo to hear what Hamas has accepted and what has been agreed to, while at the same time, he will relay Israel's position.
Also today, the Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs left for Washington to negotiate what is being refered to as "the containment agreement". That is a plan of how to stop weapons from being smuggled into Sina, an effort that will require an international effort to patrol the Sinai coast.
Israel's Kitchen Cabinet (Minister of Foreign Affairs Livni, Minister of Barak and Prime Minister Olmert) remains partially divided on when to end the war, with Olmert in favor of continuing the mission and the other two believing that at this point the original goals have been achieved and any extension is not worth the international price Israel would pay. Olmert on the other hand, believes Israel should push its advantage further.
It has been reported Israel is getting messages from members of the incoming Obama administration that it is best if the fighting ends before Obama takes office next Tuesday. It is therefore likely that by the end of the week an agreement will be reached. Its terms will be similar to what I wrote yesterday.
Katyushas fell in the area of Kiryat Shmona today. This is the second time missiles were fired from Lebanon on Israel during the conflict in Gaza. Hezbollah claims it had no part in the firing of the missiles. Some observers in Israel believe that it might be the work of a new group called the Islamic Arab Resistance Movement, which has been started and supposedly is not tied to Iran. So far there is no definitive word on who fired these missiles.
There were two articles in today's NYT worth reading, Thomas Friedman's piece called Israel's Goals in Gaza and Jeffrey Goldberg's excellent article Why Israel Can't Make Peace with Hamas. Both articles provide important perspectives, but neither are optimistic.