Death toll: 1,300 Palestinian dead of whom over 500 are women and children; 50-60% civilian. 13 Israeli dead, 3 civilians.
It appears that Hamas has agreed to its own ceasefire for a week. So now both sides appear to be on close to the same page, though its hard to tell due to the cockamamie way in which this one was negotiated. Yesterday, Israeli leaders were trying to pitch the notion that the ball was now in Hamas’ camp since Israel had declared its own ceasefire. Hamas, wisely said: “Not so fast. We’re not going to let you get away with that.” And it declared its own limited duration ceasefire waiting to see whether Israel would pull all its forces from Gaza. Now the ball is squarely back in Israel’s court.
Israel has begun to withdraw already, though this doesn’t mean that it will agree to do so fully within a week. With these two parties whatever one demands the other deliberately refuses. So I wouldn’t be surprised if Israel decides to retain some forces in Gaza just to stick a finger in Hamas’ eye.
But those who believe the worst is over and we can rest easy are sorely mistaken. The key issue is what happens in a week’s time even if the IDF withdraws? In that event, many issues remain unresolved the two most important being–what procedures will be put in place to prevent Hamas from rearming via Egyptian smuggling routes; and will Israel lift the draconian 18 month siege? If none or only one of these issues is resolved successfully we will see a resumption of warfare. If both are resolved successfully, then there will be breathing room for Barack Obama and others to proceed toward a more favorable disposition of issues under dispute.
I personally loved this rousing statement from Bono at the We Are One inaugural concert:
He went on to say the new president’s election was, in addition to an American Dream, also an Irish dream – appropriate for a Dublin-born lad – but also “a European dream, an African dream, an Israeli dream.”
After a pause, he finished, “And also a Palestinian dream.”
Interesting and disappointing that Jon Pareles, the Times’ rock critic hasn’t gotten with the program (better he should stick to music and swear off politics) :
Bono…offered what may have been the concert’s only contentious, off-message moment; during “Pride,” preached about Ireland, Europe and Africa sharing Martin Luther King’s dream and added, “It’s also a Palestinian dream.”
What is “contentious and off-message” about hope and peace from our new president for Israel and Palestine? Whenever I read nonsense like this from journalists who should know better it makes me want to give them a smack to knock some sense into them. Does this idiot think music exists in some pure world isolated from politics? Or that musicians or presidents can’t seek to knock a few heads together on behalf of peace or bring the message to the attention of millions of people in the live and viewing audience?
That inane remark from Pareles is thankfully gone from his article (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/19/arts/music/19weareone.html).