Tentative ceasefire agreed between Hamas and Israel
A ground war may have been averted thanks to US pressure and Egyptian diplomacy. But how long the Gaza Strip ceasefire between Hamas and Israel will last is the question.
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But in Israel, some were not impressed with the deal. Gershon Baskin, co-director of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, said Israel's promise to open the Gaza crossings is meaningless because the crossings were "already open" before the hostilities began. Israel sends basic goods into Gaza through those crossings, and allows limited numbers of people to cross into Israel for medical treatment.Skip to next paragraph
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But normal trade through the crossings is nonexistent. Israel prohibits almost all exports of goods grown or manufactured in Gaza, and restricts building supplies and other goods through the crossings.
The crossing with Egypt, at Rafah, is open only to people who have prior permission from Hamas and the Egyptian government, and is not open to goods. Mr. Baskin says the status of the Rafah crossing, as well as the smuggling tunnels underneath that border, will be a key issue. Morsi's government has in recent months begun destroying the tunnels and clamping down on the tunnel trade, which have been used to bring basic supplies into Gaza since the blockade began.
There are many details still to be worked out, including who would operate the Palestinian side of the crossings if they were to operate normally. That job was previously undertaken by the Palestinian Authority, which abandoned those posts when Hamas forcefully took control of Gaza in 2007.
Egypt has put its credibility on the line by guaranteeing the compliance of Hamas, and having Egypt as a guarantor of Hamas behavior will be welcomed by Israel, says Hanna. "Egypt has a stake in maintaining the calm. And that means they'll have a stake in terms of trying to ensure that Hamas complies, and that Hamas is able to deal with other militant groups that are less willing to comply."
It will be a test for Morsi, who came to power following the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, a strong US ally who maintained good ties with Israel as well. Morsi comes from Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which has close ideological ties to Hamas, yet it is still unclear how much leverage he has over the organization.
For Hamas, Israel's agreement to end assassinations -- or "targeted killings" as it sometimes refers to them -- is a "big deal," says Hanna. Israel has historically used assassinations to try to weaken militant Palestinian groups by killing their leadership.
The deal came after President Obama dispatched Clinton to Israel and Cairo as officials were on the verge of a deal that unraveled last night. In the joint press conference with Egypt's foreign minister, Clinton praised Morsi for his "leadership" in ending the crisis and said "Now we have to focus on reaching a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security, dignity, and legitimate aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis alike."
In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said Israel had achieved its aims. "We killed senior commanders and destroyed thousands of rockets and command and control centers." He also said, "I know there are citizens expecting a more intensive military operation, and it is very likely that one will be required, but right now, the right thing for the State of Israel is to take advantage of the opportunity for a protracted cease-fire."
According to a poll by Israel's Channel 2 news, 70 percent of Israelis were opposed to the ceasefire.