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UPDATED AT 7pm EASTERN TIME, MONDAY: (Washington, D.C.) — Egypt has proposed a cease-fire between Israeli and Palestinian militant forces in Gaza which, if accepted by both sides, would go into effect on Tuesday morning at 9am local time.
The Jerusalem Post is reporting that Netanyahu is inclined to recommend acceptance of Egyptian proposal to his security cabinet early Tuesday morning.
However, CNN is reporting that a Hamas spokesman has described the Egyptian ceasefire proposal as a “joke.”
At this point, it’s impossible to say whether either side is ready to stop. A lot could happen overnight that could change the dynamic one way or the other.
That said, according to Egyptian Foreign Ministry sources cited by Haaretz, these are the proposed terms:
- The cease-fire will start at 9 A.M., meaning Israel will stop aerial, naval and ground operations against the Gaza Strip and promise not to engage in a ground offensive or harm civilians.
- At the same time, all the Palestinian factions will hold their fire.
- Crossings between Gaza and Israel will be reopened, and restrictions on the passage of commodities and people will be eased, in return for a halt to hostilities.
- Within 48 hours after the cease-fire, Israeli and Palestinian delegations will arrive in Cairo for continued indirect talks to discuss the details of the truce and its implementation. Egypt will receive guaranties from both sides, and promises to implement the outline.
At the same time, Netanyahu and his war council are making final preparations to authorize a major ground operation in Gaza. The Prime Minister has not made a final decision, but some top military and political advisors are telling him a cease fire would be unwise. They argue Israel needs to move into Gaza, capture scores of terrorists, locate and destroy stockpiles of rockets, and make sure another rocket war cannot happen for a long time to come.
One big question right now: How effective has Israel’s air campaign been in Gaza to date? The Israeli media is filled with contradictory assessments.
The Jerusalem Post is citing sources that Israel’s air war has been incredibly effective at degrading the terrorists’ capacity to wage the rocket war. “The IDF has destroyed around a third of Hamas’s rocket arsenal, half of its rocket production facilities, as well as a large portion of homes used as command and control centers by Hamas brigade and battalion commanders,” reports the Post. “Hundreds of storage facilities hidden underground have also been destroyed. While the IDF’s firepower has been highly effective, Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s firepower has been rendered nearly totally ineffective due the Iron Dome air defense system.”
The Times of Israel, however, is citing sources that indicate Israel’s air campaign has not been terribly effective. “Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, nearly a week old, has been hobbled by insufficient intelligence, an unwillingness to inflict mass harm on Gaza’s civilian population, and Hamas advancements based on takeaways from the last major armed conflict in 2012, according to current and former officials,” reports the Times.
“They still have almost 90 percent of their rockets,” said Yaakov Amidror, a former national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Times adds: “Amidror, who believes that an invasion of Gaza would prove useful in the long term — sparing lives on both sides — said that Israel has not hit Hamas rocket stores, rocket development capacity, and senior personnel for two reasons: a lack of detailed intelligence; and an understanding that, based on the location of the arms and personnel, ‘the collateral damage would be enormous.’….Hamas, aware of Israel’s Achilles’ heel, he continued, placed much of its rocket stores under tall, civilian buildings. ‘Even if we ordered all of the residents out of the buildings,’ he explained, ‘the collateral damage would be massive.’ The secondary explosions, in the middle of a dense urban area, would kill many innocent civilians.”
Please keep praying for an effective end to the conflict soon. Let’s be praying especially for those Palestinian families in Gaza who have been traumatized by this rocket war, and are caught in the crossfire. “Israeli airstrikes in Gaza have so far left 184 people dead and 1,287 wounded in seven days, according to Palestinian emergency rescue services,” reports the Times of Israel. “The death toll now exceeds that of Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012.”