Will the ceasefire hold? Or will war resume
Dyer says Netanyahu wants to fight on
What a relief to watch the “humanitarian pause” take hold between Israel and Hamas, and the exchange of prisoners into the waiting embrace of their families.
Hamas on Friday released 24 hostages it held captive in Gaza for weeks, and Israel freed 39 Palestinians from prison in the first stage of a swap under a four-day ceasefire that offered a small glimmer of relief to both sides.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that on the first day of the pause, 137 trucks of goods were offloaded in Gaza making it the biggest humanitarian convoy received since October 7.
Will Israel resume the attack after the four days have passed?
Author Gwynne Dyer says it's a three-way standoff in the Israel-Hamas drama:
Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu wants to keep the war going to wipe out Hamas completely. “We are at war and we will continue the war until we achieve all our goals: to destroy Hamas, return all our hostages and ensure that no entity in Gaza can threaten Israel,” said Netanyahu on Nov. 20.
Joe Biden in the U.S. is pushing hard for a permanent ceasefire because supporting Israel too much is causing headaches in the Arab world.
But Hamas wants a break. They've pretty much achieved what they sought with the attacks on October 7 and want to leave the table while they're ahead, Dyer writes.
Hamas said in a statement: "We affirm that our fingers remain on the trigger, and our victorious fighters will remain on the lookout to defend our people, and defeat the occupation."
Israel is under widespread condemnation because of the thousands killed by its bombardment of tiny and defenceless Gaza, and the momentum for mutual-recognition deals with Arab countries – especially Saudi Arabia – is on ice for now.
The deal is 10 hostages released each day of the ceasefire. Hamas figures the longer the peace lasts, the harder it'll be for Israel to start shooting again.
Netanyahu wants a clear win to stay in power, especially with the settler fanatics backing him. But if the ceasefire persists he might lose their support, and power.
The big question is whether this ceasefire lasts and if it does, what does it mean? Hamas has scored tactical wins, but strategically, they might have painted themselves into a corner, especially with talk of a two-state solution making a comeback.
“The last thing Hamas wants is a ‘two-state solution’ that divides Palestine between Jewish state and an Arab one. It wants to drive all the Jews out of Palestine and unite it as an Islamic republic,” writes Dyer. “Yet the carnage of the war and the shock to the international system have forced the long-moribund two-state idea back onto the table.”
Dyer concludes by asking if this is really success, what would failure look like? It's not clear.
(Cover: New York, NY, USA 10.19.2023: A protester holds up a missing poster of Yarden Roman at a rally for the release of Hostages being held by Hamas in Times Square, NYC on October 19th, 2023. Via Shutterstock)