After days of escalating violence, calm fell on Gaza Monday, following reports of an unofficial ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas. But the lull appeared tentative, as Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said it would be a "grave mistake" to give the Palestinian organization time to strengthen and regroup. Is this just a breather before a repeat of the 2008 Gaza war, or could it lead to real progress? (Watch a Fox News report about the agreement.)
It's a good start: Although it is too early to say whether a ceasefire will hold, says Conal Urquhart in The Guardian, Israel and Hamas appear to have "stepped back from a major confrontation." All bets are off, of course, if Hamas resumes its attacks on Israeli civilians, which last week included the firing of an anti-tank missile at an Israeli school bus. But Israel appears ready to hold its fire as long as Hamas honors the truce it requested, and that's a start.
"Israel and Hamas step back from major Gaza confrontation"
Don't be naive: The recent surge in rocket attacks by Hamas "is illustrative of a harsh truth," says Scott Johnson at Powerline. "Israel is an island of civilization in a sea of barbarians," most of them fueled by radical Islam. "The problem is not Jews in this Jerusalem neighborhood or that part of the West Bank, but rather the existence of the national home of the Jewish people." So don't expect Hamas to put away its rockets any time soon.
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Israel bears responsibility here, too: Israel has to answer for the "humanitarian situation within Gaza," says Roger Hercz in Egypt's Al-Masry Al-Youm. So maybe it should start trying to figure out how to deal with Hamas, instead of following the advice of people like Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who won't rest until Israel does away with the militant group running Gaza "with a lethal military strike."
"Special from Israel: Gaza poised to escalate Egyptian-Israeli tensions in post-Mubarak era"
Israel still must prepare for the worst: Israel obviously can't assume it won't start raining rockets again soon, says Adam Rawnsley at Wired. So "to mitigate some of Hezbollah’s missile threat," it is deploying its new Iron Dome missile defense system, which knocked several Hamas rockets out of the sky over the weekend. It is also covertly trying to disrupt the supply of rockets into Gaza. That way, if a new Gaza war breaks out, it will be able to weaken Hamas without the "ferocious" strikes that hurt its image abroad the last time.
"Rocket war: 36,000 DIY missiles vs. Israel's 'Iron Dome'"
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