After eight days of what Israel called the "Pillar of Cloud Operation", can any side involved claim even a small victory? It's hard to offer a positive answer to that, although many are proclaiming themselves to be the heroes of the day.
Israel claims that their operation "severely impaired Hamas's launching capabilities." According to Hamas, their rocket strikes led to the ceasefire deal. The USA, the UN and Egypt each claim that their own interventions led to the ceasefire agreement. If all of this is true, then this operation was a Win - Win (and Win - Win - Win). Everyone involved can turn to their constituents with pride and pat themselves on the back, saying "We are great." But is that the case? I think not. It seems that all involved have major doubts about what really went on behind the scenes, and wonder how this ceasefire will benefit their people in the long run.
Israelis ask, "Will this ceasefire just allow the Islamic terrorists more time to heal their wounds and restock their stash of rockets for the next round of fire on Tel Aviv? And if so, why did Israel’s defense mechanism stop short of crushing Hamas?"
Those who feel they gained from this operation are mainly public figures who received a lot of free airtime on TV. For Israeli officials, that airtime is crucial now - only weeks ahead of the elections here. With more than half of Israel’s population under rocket fire, anyone who can get on TV and promise to do whatever he can to stop the rockets knows that he is speaking to many potential voters about the most acute problem they are facing.
On the flip side, Khaled Mashaal and the Hamas leaders were given a major platform to present themselves as the protectors of the people of Gaza while under attack by Israel’s Air Force planes and warships. But this also upgraded Hamas to being the relevant representatives of the Palestinians on the international negotiation table.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi (and his Muslim Brotherhood party) achieved much-sought international recognition as a key regional player and mediator between Israel and the Arab world.
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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the UN General Secretary and the Arab League Chief all made their own runs for the TV cameras, to appear as if they are somehow effective here, while in fact, they have all proven to be totally impotent in offering any relief to the people of Syria, who are facing genocide by their own government.
While all parties are up in arms about the current exchange of rocket fire between Israel and the Islamists in Gaza, all efforts are focused at halting the rockets now. Not enough consideration is given to long-range solutions to this very serious problem. According to the CIA World Fact Book, the population of Gaza is 1.7 million people in an area of 360 square kilometers, with no access to any natural resources. Half of the population is under age 17, and they have a 40% unemployment rate.
Those who do find work can expect low wages as a norm. They are ruled by the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas movement, which terrorizes its own population, and due to its rocket attacks on Israel, has forced Israel to monitor and limit its imports. Gaza’s citizens have not been able to work in Israel since the 2005 disengagement, which saw the forced removal of all Israeli citizens from that area and closed its border crossings.
The disengagement saw 7,000 Jewish residents of Gaza displaced, while their homes and businesses were destroyed. Many of those Jewish-owned businesses and farms also provided workplaces for Palestinians. Those workplaces no longer exist.
Pushing Israel out of Gaza did not improve the situation of the local Palestinians, but on the contrary, has worsened their ability to provide for their families. Their security and Israel’s have both deteriorated. Worst of all, all involved in forcing these “arrangements” seem to ignore the fact that there is no hope on the horizon. Are 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza meant to live off of international aid forever? Or are they to be forever hungry and enslaved to radical Hamas?
Mothers in Israel and Gaza will breathe easily and rest in comfort knowing that rockets are not threatening their tranquility this Shabbat, knowing that their children are safe and that their sons are not on the battlefield this rainy weekend. But all are left asking, “How long will this last?”