Hamas’s violations have become so egregious so fast that Barak is stuck in Israel indefinitely monitoring the situation. When Operation Cast Lead was suspended the IDF said that they’d tolerate no violations of the ceasefire. On all three of the Operation’s big goals, though – eh:
(1) Attacks on Israeli civilians and troops – Hamas never really stopped shelling Israeli civilians, up to and including the first few days of the ceasefire. They’ve continued firing rockets and mortars, including a few earlier today. And of course a few days ago they killed an Israeli soldier, prompting an Israeli retaliation and another round of Palestinian threats – or, as DPA described it, “Hamas threatens response to Israeli strikes.”
(2) Arms smuggling – Israel had barely stopped shooting before Hamas vowed to rearm. Within a few days they had hundreds of Gaza civilians on the border rebuilding the tunnels in broad daylight – the better to deliver incoming Iranian weapons. And then there’s this thing:
Israel is closely tracking an Iranian freighter believed to be carrying weaponry for Hamas that is currently docked in the Red Sea outside the Suez Canal, after Egypt refused to permit it to cross the waterway to the Mediterranean. According to a report received at the Defense Ministry from the Pentagon, the US Navy recently boarded an Iranian vessel that was carrying artillery shells and other weaponry. “This is a big test for the Egyptians,” a senior defense official said. “So far the Egyptians have prevented the ship from crossing the Suez and we hope it will stay that way.” Defense officials said that Iran is trying to supply Hamas with new Grad-model Katyusha rockets and to replace high-grade explosives that were exhausted or destroyed by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead.
Last Tuesday Israel had to blow up eight of the tunnels, although that was in response to the attack on Israeli troops and not to the tunnels as such. It’s an open question how much longer they’ll be allowed to do even that.
(3) Shalit – Hamas is now regularly announcing nudge-wink threats about Shalit’s fate, something they started doing during the war. Carl thinks these are hints about how they’re smuggling him out of Gaza. Operation Cast Lead was supposed to soften Hamas’s position on Shalit but instead it looks like Israel’s position is the one that’s moved:
As Israel and Egypt coordinate efforts to clamp down on Hamas’ smuggling operation in Gaza, senior officials in Jerusalem say that Israel has softened its positions ahead of a possible prisoner exchange deal with Hamas for the retrieval of Gilad Shalit. Haaretz has learned from several cabinet ministers that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other ministers who had refused Hamas’ demands for Shalit’s release have recently “realized that there is no choice but to pay the price,” as one minister put it.
One report has it the deal at 1,000 prisoners plus the border crossings. Happy Thursday.
References and previously…
* Barak cancels US trip due to Gaza border attack [JPost]
* Defense official: Fresh Hamas strikes will be met with even greater force [Ha'aretz]
* Hamas fires 8 mortar shells [YNet]
* Mortar shell lands in Sha’ar Hanegev; none injured [YNet]
* Hamas threatens response to Israeli strikes [DPA]
* Hamas vows to rearm after Gaza war [Reuters]
* Hundreds of Gazans amasse on Egypt border to repair tunnels destroyed by IAF [Ha'aretz]
* Hamas Already Rebuilding Tunnels For The Weapons That Iran Is Already Sending [MR]
* Cairo intercepts Iranian arms ship [JPost]
* IAF attacks Hamas tunnels under Philadelphi Corridor [JPost]
* Israel hits Gaza tunnels as U.S. envoy due [WaPo]
* Hamas: Israel must consider Shalit’s fate after bombing Gaza [Ha'aretz]
* Hamas Savages Publicly Mock Shalit Again [MR]
* Is Gilad Shalit about to ‘disappear’? [Israel Matzav]
* Israeli Minister: ‘We are ready to pay terrible price for Gilad Shalit’ [Ha'aretz]
* ‘Open crossings, 1,000 prisoners for Schalit’ [JPost]
* Israel To Call Unilateral Ceasefire, Declare Partial Victory (Plus: Has Operation Cast Lead Achieved Anything?)
* WND: Obama Pressured Israel To Declare Ceasefire
* Palestinians Blow The Lid Off Cover Up Of Glorious Hamas Victory