UPDATED: At 2a.m. Sunday morning, Israel ceased all offensive military operations in Gaza. It is a unilateral cease-fire that Hamas says it has no intention of honoring. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made the announcement on a nationally televised broadcast, following a three-hour Cabinet meeting and a 7-2 vote (with one abstention) in favor of the decision to put Operation Cast Lead on pause.
- Statement by Prime Minister Olmert
- Senior Israeli military official: “We are preparing for the possibility that Hamas didn’t get the message and that we’ll be forced to resume the offensive and perhaps intensify it.”
- Mission accomplished? Hamas fired 6 rockets at Israel after Olmert made the cease fire announcment, fired at least 25 rockets at Israel on Saturday
- Mubarak to host summit to prevent Hamas from re-arming: Sarkozy, Merkel, and Brown to attend Gaza summit in Egypt (Sharm el-Sheikh)
- Deep disappointment:Gilad Shalit’s parents urge Olmert not to end war without securing his release from captivity, but Shalit not part of the deal
- Text of agreement between U.S. and Israel re: preventing the rearmament of Hamas
ORIGINAL POST: Senior Israeli officials have been signaling all day that they are close to achieving their objectives and thus may soon unilaterally declare a ceasefire. At this hour, the Israeli Cabinet is meeting behind closed doors in Tel Aviv to make a decision on how to proceed. Yet the question that must be asked is: what objectives have Israel truly achieved at this point? To be sure, IDF forces have made enormous progress against the Hamas terror infrastructure in Gaza over the last 22 days. But let’s be clear: Hamas continues to fire rockets at southern Israeli towns and cities (at least 15 on Saturday, hitting a synagogue and sending a pregnant Israeli mother to the hospital after her home received a direct hit). Hundreds — if not thousands — of Hamas terrorists continue warring against Israeli forces in Gaza (9 Israeli soldiers were injured on Saturday, four of them seriously). Hamas refuses to surrender or agree to a cease fire. Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured by Hamas in 2006 and held ever since, has not been released, nor do his parents or his country even have assurances that he is alive much less healthy. What’s more, Egypt has not yet formally agreed to prevent Hamas from smuggling weapons back into Gaza (though Cairo appears to be moving in that direction). How exactly is that the kind of sweeping success Israel needs right now? I’m concerned Israel has just blinked, not won. But let’s pray I’m wrong and that this, in time, will prove to be a dramatic victory for the IDF and true safety for the Israelis along the southern border of Gaza.
- UPDATE: Likud calls on Israeli government to continue Operation Cast Lead, not declare a unilateral cease fire
- Reuters: Israel plans ceasefire, Hamas vows to fight on: “Israel appears keen to halt Gaza hostilities before Barack Obama is sworn in as U.S. president on Tuesday, to avoid clouding a historic day for its main ally.”
- Hamas fires at least 10 rockets at Israel on Saturday (the Sabbath), scoring direct hit on a synagogue
- Israel’s Cabinet to vote Saturday on unilateral Gaza truce
** Even if Israel halts its military operations, The Joshua Fund will continue to bless the Israelis in Sderot and the southern tier through a number of relief projects. If you would like to make a secure, tax deductible donation on-line to The Joshua Fund — or learn more about what we are doing and why — please click here **