Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The ceasefire in Gaza- quick evaluation

A ceasefire of 3 days entered into effect and so far it is preserved. The goal is to solidify the quiet in order to enable talks in Cairo that will end up with agreement to stabilize the situation. Hamas gave the last round of rockets and we have to pay attention that one of the final launches was directed to Jerusalem but fall on Bet Sahur near Bethlehem and caused damage with no casualties among the Palestinians. We believe that this "grand finale" towards Jerusalem is marking the next focus of Hamas – which will be on Jerusalem.
The ceasefire is very fragile and we consider the Rafah situation as the weakest link. Rafah is overlooking on Rafah border crossing and is populated by many cadres of Qassam Brigades that without their consent no agreement can be implemented.
As far as we checked at 22:00 last night with our Palestinian sources Israel still insisted that the ceasefire will not include Rafah. Hamas on its part said that they insist on complete Israeli withdrawal and get a guarantee that Muhammad Deif loyalists will be permitted to attend Cairo meetings. In the past Egypt refused to accept them but after Israel said that it will exercise full withdrawal from, Gaza including Rafah and Egypt removed its veto on them- the conditions ripened to have the ceasefire. As we were informed by our Palestinian sources indeed Khalil Hayya, Hamas Home minister who is responsible on security and is linked to Deif, and his colleagues arrived to Cairo. It is all depends now if they are satisfied. In one critical issue- the salaries – it was known now that Qatar has sent- or is about to send – money for Hamas bureaucracy to Gaza banks. Another issue is the control on Rafah border point. They want to make sure that they will be the boss there even if Ramallah's forces will be deployed there. This is for the immediate goals- they still have far reaching demands of seaport and airport etc. those are topics to be discussed later after the burning issues of salaries and who is controlling the Rafah crossing will be decided. We assess that once the Deif's personnel will not be satisfied—the fire may well return.
We have to mention here that Hamas gave up a basic demand that had during past contacts – to run the talks with Israel under fire. Egypt told them that talks can be run only under full quiet. Islamic Jihad convinced Hamas to give up this position after its leader, Ramadhan Shallah, Gave clear indication of supporting the Egyptian positions.

In any case, we can perceive a clear line of shifting the conflict to Jerusalem and the West Bank, and Hamas through al-Jazeera will employ the photos coming out from Gaza debris to instigate the Palestinians to a Hamas-inspired intifada that will focus on the Aqsa mosque.