Israel withdraws from Gaza as cease-fire holds

This cease-fire has lasted longer than the last, which only ran 90 minutes before Hamas attempted to abduct an IDF officer and reinstated the ground war. This time, though, Israel had more or less finished the ground war, while Hamas was more or less out of options after the demolition of their tunnels into southern Israel. Israel has now pulled out of Gaza, and Hamas unleashed one last volley of rockets … which hit Palestinian homes in the West Bank:

Israel said Tuesday it was withdrawing all ground forces from the Gaza Strip at the start of an Egyptian-brokered 72-hour cease-fire intended to bring to a halt the nearly month-long war after multiple broken truces.

The cease-fire, which took effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday, was agreed to late Monday night by both Israel and the militant Palestinian Islamist group Hamas following talks in Cairo. It closely resembles previous proposals for an unconditional pause in a conflict that has left nearly 2,000 people dead — the overwhelming majority of them Palestinians.

Israel did not send representatives to the Cairo talks, but a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, said Israel would abide by the truce’s terms and would withdraw all its ground forces from Gaza by 8 a.m. Lerner said Israel “would continue to maintain defensive positions from the air, from the coast and from the ground, but outside the Gaza Strip.”

Ezzat al-Reshek, a Hamas representative at the Cairo talks, said that the group would abide by the cease-fire and that it is ready to begin indirect negotiations in the Egyptian capital about the terms for a lasting truce.

Good luck with those “terms,” though. Hamas hasn’t got much with with to bargain now, after having its terror infrastructure destroyed and ending up with no gains at all after provoking the war. Accepting Egypt’s terms is, as Hamas said from the beginning, a defeat and surrender. They shafted their only politically-significant allies, Turkey and Qatar, by violating the previous cease fire after the two nations had vouched for Hamas.

They’re pariahs abroad, and they’re almost certain to be pariahs at home when Gazans take measure of what they gained by all the blood shed by Hamas while using them as human shields, and worse. Hamas had begun executing Palestinians en masse who dared protest against their actions during the war, tightening their grip on power in the short run but underscoring their despotism and nihilism in the longer term. Jeff Dunetz says this is one reason the cease fire may last this time:

Gazans are beginning to “revolt” against Hamas. People in Gaza are getting angry, not just against Israel but against Hamas. . A week ago, Palestinian sources reported that Hamas, most of them in the Shejaiya neighborhood, executed over 30 Palestinians . Hamas claimed that they were collaborators with Israel. Israel’s Channel 10 said that Hamas executed 20 residents of Shejaiya who had dared demonstrate against Hamas. Palestinian Arab sources said Tuesday that Gaza residents attacked Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri Saturday evening, near the Shifa Hospital. The residents blamed Hamas for the death of family members and for destruction of their homes. Armed Hamas terrorists from the Izzedine al-Kassam Brigades extricated Abu Zuri and arrested the angry residents.

Actually, I suspect that this is one reason why Hamas didn’t want a cease fire. Once the smoke clears, there may well be an accounting for their actions, and war helps to delay the inevitable. Once Israel announced it would withdraw, though, Hamas had little choice but to go along with the truce, especially since their other avenues of attack had been destroyed.

That makes Benjamin Netanyahu the instrument of the truce, but you’d never know that from the US State Department’s statement on the cease fire:

Talk about petty.