Hamas is conditioning an extension of ceasefire on instant concessions by Israel, which threatens that if the terrorists attack at the end of the ceasefire Friday morning, the IDF will return in full force.
The scenario is familiar. The closer a deadline nears, the more Hamas threatens. Now it refuses to extend the 72-hour ceasefire unless Israel allows it to develop a deep sea port.
It is hard to keep up with Hamas’ demands,. First it was an airport, opening all of the land crossings and the release of terrorists from Israeli jails.
Officials from the Egyptian government and from the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah met in Cairo and reportedly were progressing towards an extension of the ceasefire, due to end at 8 a.m. Friday, but the scene got a bit messy when Islamic Jihad and Hamas bigwigs arrived on the scene.
A Palestinian Authority official threatened to pack his bags and go back home.
Hamas, as usual, talked tough.
“We support the resistance, we support the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, we support more firing at Tel Aviv and we support the tunnels,” said its spokesman Mushir Al-Masri.
“The war is not over yet,” he continued. “We tell the settlers – don’t go back to your homes if Netanyahu doesn’t agree to the resistance’s demands.” The IDF on Thursday encouraged residents of southern Israel to return to their homes, promising that the army is taking every step to keep them safe.
Israel’s demands have been that Hamas be disarmed, which is as likely as the sun rising in the west tomorrow.
The Netanyahu government has been clear that if Hamas resumes rocket fire, the IDF will help Hamas fulfill its Operation Death Wish.
“We are preparing,” said a military official.” As an army we must take into account the possibility that at 8 am they will begin firing. We are ready for this.”
Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, a reformed leftist who is one of the most hawkish Likud ministers, told the BBC, “Should Hamas resume rocket attacks on Israel’s cities, we will have no option except to take temporary control over Gaza in order to demilitarize the Gaza Strip from rockets and missiles.”
So what does Hamas offer Israel in return for sending terrorists back to Hamas and opening air space, land crossings and the sea for Hamas into import all the medicine, commodities, goods humanitarian aid and especially all the rockets and anti-air craft missiles that it wants?
Israel will get a promise that Hamas will not fire rockets on Israel – until it does.
A promise of a ceasefire, which based on previous truces, will last anywhere from zero seconds to a couple of months.
It is dangerous to predict anything in the Middle East, but it is a fair guess that come 8 a.m. Friday, there will be no ceasefire and there will be no mammoth rocket barrage on Tel Aviv.
Hamas probably will launch a couple of mortar shells or Kassam rockets. If they don’t misfire and land in a UNRWA school, they will set off the Code Red early warning sirens in the Gaza Belt and explode in open areas, or maybe blow up a greenhouse. It will be just enough to place check mark next to the column, “We attacked Israel.”
If the IDF responds and does anything more than hit an open area or a greenhouse in Gaza, it will be accused of a disproportionate response.