Israel and Hamas Agree to a Ceasefire Brokered by Egypt and U.S.
After eight days of conflict, Israel and Hamas have agreed to a ceasefire. The conflict began with Israel, citing rockets frequently being fired into southern Israel from Gaza, assassinating the leader of Hamas’ military wing, Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jabari. The Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, then posted a ten second video of the “pinpoint strike” on YouTube and tweeted the video on their Twitter account, @IDFSpokesperson. In response to this Hamas’ military wing, Al-Qassam Brigades tweeted back “@idfspokesperson Our blessed hands will reach your leaders and soldiers wherever they are (You Opened Hell Gates on Yourselves)”. This prompted a war of words to be waged on Twitter alongside the real conflict. As the fighting went on, hope was fading that an escalation into all out ground war could be avoided.
President Obama, who, along with Hilary Clinton, was on a diplomatic tour of Asia, was in frequent contact with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and newly elected Egyptian President, Mohammed Morsi, via telephone stressing the importance of deescalation. It is important to note that the United States did not deal directly with Hamas because Hamas is recognized as a terrorist organization. Instead, Morsi was tasked with dealing directly with Hamas because he is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood party, the progenitor of the Hamas organization. The first large scale international conflict in the region since the beginning of the Arab Spring, all eyes were on Morsi to see how he would act in such a situation. President Obama had expressed a degree of apprehension about Morsi in September during an interview with telemundo saying the U.S. would not consider Egypt an ally, “but we don’t consider them an enemy.”
On Tuesday, the 20th of November, Secretary of State Clinton left Obama to finish out his diplomatic tour alone so she could fly to the Middle East and help reach some agreement. After a whirlwind of meetings, Clinton’s shuttle diplomacy payed off and a deal was struck. Both sides called the agreement a victory with Israel citing elimination of strategic targets and an impressive debut of their Iron Dome missle defense system and Hamas citing assurances of a slackening of the five-year Israeli blockade of Gaza.
Tensions between the two countries have not cooled in the slightest. How then was a ceasefire agreement reached so swiftly? Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood President provided a new diplomatic connection to Hamas that had not existed before. Morsi was able to liaise with Hamas while Clinton spoke with Netanyahu. Clinton and Morsi were then able to work together to finalize the agreement. The ceasefire is only the beginning however. Ceasefires have been made and broken between Israel and Gaza before. If they want a longer lasting peace they’re going to have to come together and talk about their goals and demands.
The situation in the Middle East continues to be tenuous despite this ceasefire, with President Morsi giving himself new power over the courts in Egypt.
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