Scenario 3 It Is

The Israelis have declared a unilateral ceasefire in Gaza:

JERUSALEM — Israel declared late Saturday that a unilateral cease-fire would begin in Gaza within hours, but said its troops would remain in place for now.

After 22 days of war against Hamas, and the deaths of more than 1,200 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert insisted that “we have reached all the goals of the war, and beyond.” Speaking to the nation late Saturday night, he said that Hamas had “suffered a major blow” and that if it continued to fire rockets into Israel, “the Israeli Army will regard itself as free to respond with force.”

Hamas, battered but hardly broken, said in Gaza that it would continue fighting so long as Israeli troops occupy Gaza. And Israeli officials say a new flurry of rocket launches, to prove that Hamas is neither cowed nor defeated, is likely for at least a short time.

On Friday I remarked on an article at Time.com recounting three scenarios in which the Gaza War might end:

  1. Regime change in Gaza.
  2. A long-term negotiated ceasefire.
  3. Major hostilities end without a formal resolution.

If the current ceasefire holds then Scenario 3 it is. If you’ve got a better explanation for the events than the one I offered, that domestic political considerations would be the determining factor, I’d certainly like to hear it. If you could help me out with what strategic objectives the Israelis have achieved, I’d appreciate that, too.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. steve says:

    I can think of only a few things. One, they have probably decimated much of northern Gaza, forcing Gazans and Hamas south. Two, they may have shut down the tunnels or have enough info to do so. Three, this may be part of a long term effort to get Egypt to take over Gaza. It certainly looks as though Egypt was cooperating, in their own way.

    All of these are a reach, if things end as they currently stand. I still think Israeli internal politics was a major factor.

    Steve

  2. Triumph says:

    # Regime change in Gaza.
    # A long-term negotiated ceasefire.
    # Major hostilities end without a formal resolution

    How could it have been anything OTHER than the last? It is impossible to displace Hamas, absent killing every last Gazan [which Israel probably would like to do, but its an impossible task].

    There is no way that a negotiated solution would have occurred since Israel would never talk to Hamas.

    If you could help me out with what strategic objectives the Israelis have achieved, I’d appreciate that, too.

    None. It was an idiotic move.

  3. James Joyner says:

    I think your “domestic political considerations” explanation is by far the most plausible. As with our financial crisis, Israel’s leaders have enormous pressure to “do something” and no viable options at their disposal. So, a big “something” is done to create enough smoke to distract.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    I don’t think it was just misdirection. While it might not been the explicit intent I think one of the implicit effects of attacking Gaza was to strengthen Kadima relative to Likud for the upcoming elections. It’s another of the cases of doing what you think is the right thing to do dovetailing neatly with political advantage. We’ve seen a number of instances of that with our own domestic politics.

    However, now Olmert apparently thinks he’s accomplished as much along those lines as is possible using these means at this point. Since as I read the tealeaves there’s little appetite in Israel for a lengthy reoccupation of Gaza it will be interesting to see how Olmert removes IDF forces from Gaza before the February elections (which would strengthen Kadima) without encouraging Hamas (which would weaken it).

  5. Martin says:

    In my neck of the woods we have another name for “unilateral cease-fire”. We call it “surrender”.
    Call it what you will, not only does it result from Israeli domestic political considerations, but US political factors loom large as well. Israel is well aware that once President-Elect Barak Obama is sworn in as President, tremendous pressure will be exerted on Israel to make “painful sacrifices”. The unilateral ceasefire is an inauguration present to Obama in the hope that he will go easier on Israel in the coming days.

  6. Brett says:

    In any case, Hamas has apparently offered a Seven Day Ceasefire. We’ll see if it actually sticks for seven days.