Hot on the heels of last night’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by the Israeli government, Hamas has declared a unilateral ceasefire of their very own. Neither side is willing to talk to the other about it, but so far calm has prevailed in the roughly 16 hours since the Israeli attacks stopped.
But moving forward, the picture is less clear. Both ceasefires are reportedly very short term, Israel’s was reportedly 10 days and Hamas says they will give the Israeli military a week to leave the Gaza Strip before resuming their fight against the invading force.
A week seems like plenty of time: indeed in the tiny Gaza Strip the Israeli military could likely walk back to Israel from any point in a few hours. And while Israel has repeatedly insisted it has no designs on staying, they seem just as likely to remain for more than a week if for no other reason than to antagonize Hamas. The Israeli government rebuffed UN calls to discuss a timetable for withdrawal, with Olmert adding that if Hamas ends the rocket fire (which so far it has) “Israel will consider an IDF withdrawal” from the Gaza Strip.
Olmert spokesman Mark Regev also suggested that if they believe the ceasefire is holding, they will “start a process of moving out.” Both sound like remarkably vague and long-term exit strategies considering they are talking about an operational area roughly the size of the city limits of Detroit. Surely one would not require a process to leave the city after a Lions game, but then the Lions fans aren’t waiting around hoping that another football game will break out. Their continued presence is just another painful reminder to Gazans, as they try to dig relatives out of the rubble that used to be their cities, that one of Israel’s favorite spectator sports is liable to resume at any moment.