Israeli News: A Daily Analysis

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

January 18, 2009--Hamas Accepts Ceasefire- Gas Discovered Off israel Coast

Hamas announced this afternoon that it would also abide by Israel's one sided ceasefire. It waited half a day and fired 20 missiles first but in the end it realized it had no choice. The announcement was made in Damascus in a television appearance put together by the Syrian government. Hamas announced that it was giving Israel one week to withdraw from Gaza. Beyond that Hamas has been unusually silent. Ramadan Shalach, the head of the Islamic Jihad, gave an interview in Syria in which he stated that if Israel wanted to negotiate the removal of incidents from the circle of violence he was willing to. He stated that the Islamic Jihad was a responsible resistance movement and did not want to give Israel excuses to bring about further tragedies on the Palestinian people. This is quite surprising considering the Islamic Jihad is considered to be more extreme than Hamas.

When the ceasefire was announced yesterday, Israeli Minister of Defense Barak stated that this will not be the last war. Nobody can doubt the truth of that statement, but without jumping to any conclusion too quickly, it is possible that something may have changed fundamentally in the world of Palestinian resistance. This is the first time since 1967 that Israel has clearly won a one sided victory at a very low cost.

By watching the interviews with Gazans, it is certain Israel has not made any new friends, and yet ther e is clearly a sense that the direction that Hamas has been advocating is only leading the Palestinians into a new tragedy. I heard an interview with an old Palestinian man who looked over the rubble of his neighborhood and stated, “we have been resisting since 1948, what has it gotten us”. Hamas is going to have a very difficult time reasserting its civil rule in Gaza, and an even harder time convincing the people that armed resistance is the direction to go.

Today the leaders of Great Britain, France, Italy, Spain, Germany and the Czech Republic went first to Egypt and then tonight to Israel, to make a public statement that they support the ceasefire and that they will do what they can to support Israel's and Egypt’s enforcement of it. This includes helping to stop the arms smuggling from Egypt. There have been missions like this before, but it is a statement of the success of Israel's diplomatic efforts that so many leader of Europe came for a festive dinner with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert when the guns are still warm.

Israelis are not happy with the decision to enter into a ceasefire. Fifty percent of Israelis oppose the ceasefire. They state that they were expecting what is called tipul shoresh, which means root cannel work. What they got was less. Of course before the war there was overwhelming support for the attack even though most people did not be lieve it would end the rocket fire completely. They still do not believe that. One of the great dangers in the next few days in the midst of an election campaign is that Israel talks itself out of a victory. Psychology is very important in the conflict and Israel is three weeks away from an election. The right has no choice but to claim that the war was a failure. If that notion takes hold it will become a failure.

To summarize the 22 day war:
660 rockets were fired at Israel, 78% long range.
13 Israelis including 9 soldiers were killed 699 were wounded, most stress from close calls 1297 houses were damaged. T
he IAF carried out 1200 air strikes on Gaza.
According to Palestinian sources, 1300 were killed in Gaza among them 300 children and 150 women.

There was some good news from Israel today that would on a normal day have dominated the news. The Delek oil company led by Yisrael Shuva announced today that it has discovered an extremely large natural gas field 50 miles off the coast of Haifa. According to Shuva, the field will be able to provide for all of Israel's natural gas needs and even result in Israel becoming a gas exporter. Shuva may be overstating the results of the gas discovery, but this clearly is a very important positive economic development for Israel.