PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) on Thursday afternoon left Cairo with nothing in hand. It was clear to the PA leader and to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi that a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel was not going to occur at this time. Hamas rejected the Egyptian leader’s proposals.
According to a Channel 10 News report, one Egyptian official present during the talks said “if this is what they want, let them bleed”, showing his nonchalant attitude towards the ceasefire initiative. While US Secretary of State John Kerry may be anxious to broker a Mideast success [in his eyes], el-Sisi is genuinely more than willing to permit Hamas to take a pounding, hoping Israel will eliminate his bitter enemy. Exhibiting steadfast solidarity with his Arab brethren in the media, Abu Mazen shares el-Sisi’ disdain for the Hamas leadership and its military wing, for the latter ousted him and his Fatah government from Gaza. He too is pleased to condemn Israeli aggression in the media while seeing his enemy take a beating by the IDF.
According to most experts a ceasefire is a distant reality on Thursday evening. The humanitarian ceasefire that began at 10:00 Thursday morning was broken by Hamas rocket fire at minutes before the completion of the second hour. Israel ignored the first violation but as the rocket fire continued later in the afternoon, the IAF took to the skies and began pounding terrorists. Both Israel and Hamas rejected a UN call to extend the humanitarian ceasefire. Israel explained that Hamas did not abide by the first ceasefire and therefore an extension would be a non-starter.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu remains quiet amid mounting criticism from within his own party, from southern residents and no less poignant, from IDF reservists who uploaded their song which simply mocks the leader. It is important to understand that the overwhelming number of reservists activated for the operation are not at the Gaza border, but they have been stationed throughout Yehuda, Shomron, the Jordan Valley, the northern border and other areas, freeing the compulsory soldiers to shift down south where they await entry to Gaza. After Hamas launched over 100 rockets since the end of the ceasefire at 15:00, a ground forces incursion into Gaza appears more likely than ever before and while a ceasefire seems a distant prayer for some down the road.
The word from the southern border is the soldiers stand ready for the order to enter Gaza. They have been training during the ten day period, now standing by for a decision from the Security Cabinet to take Operation Protective Edge to the next stage.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)