DID ISRAEL JUST BLINK, OR WIN?: Olmert declares unilateral cease-fire

UPDATED: At 2a.m. Sunday morning, Israel ceased all offensive military operations in Gaza. It is a unilateral cease-fire that Hamas says it has no intention of honoring. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made the announcement on a nationally televised broadcast, following a three-hour Cabinet meeting and a 7-2 vote (with one abstention) in favor of the decision to put Operation Cast Lead on pause.

ORIGINAL POST: Senior Israeli officials have been signaling all day that they are close to achieving their objectives and thus may soon unilaterally declare a ceasefire. At this hour, the Israeli Cabinet is meeting behind closed doors in Tel Aviv to make a decision on how to proceed. Yet the question that must be asked is: what objectives have Israel truly achieved at this point? To be sure, IDF forces have made enormous progress against the Hamas terror infrastructure in Gaza over the last 22 days. But let’s be clear: Hamas continues to fire rockets at southern Israeli towns and cities (at least 15 on Saturday, hitting a synagogue and sending a pregnant Israeli mother to the hospital after her home received a direct hit). Hundreds — if not thousands — of Hamas terrorists continue warring against Israeli forces in Gaza (9 Israeli soldiers were injured on Saturday, four of them seriously). Hamas refuses to surrender or agree to a cease fire. Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured by Hamas in 2006 and held ever since, has not been released, nor do his parents or his country even have assurances that he is alive much less healthy. What’s more, Egypt has not yet formally agreed to prevent Hamas from smuggling weapons back into Gaza (though Cairo appears to be moving in that direction). How exactly is that the kind of sweeping success Israel needs right now? I’m concerned Israel has just blinked, not won.  But let’s pray I’m wrong and that this, in time, will prove to be a dramatic victory for the IDF and true safety for the Israelis along the southern border of Gaza.

** Even if Israel halts its military operations, The Joshua Fund will continue to bless the Israelis in Sderot and the southern tier through a number of relief projects. If you would like to make a secure, tax deductible donation on-line to The Joshua Fund — or learn more about what we are doing and why — please click here **

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