Report: Hamas Accepts Ceasefire

Hamas reportedly agrees to Egyptian ceasefire terms, will stop firing before an Israeli withdrawal. Truce would leave most of Hamas's army intact

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu ,

Hamas down but not out: victim of Kassam
Hamas down but not out: victim of Kassam
Flash 90

Initial reports say that Hamas in Gaza has agreed to Egypt's ceasefire plan. This would involve a cessation of hostilities as a first step. Later, crossings between Gaza and Egypt would reopen but they would be monitored by Fatah personnel and not Hamas's people. Hamas is expected to announce the main points of the agreement at a news conference later Wednesday evening.


The agreement was reported by Channel 2's Arab affairs expert Ehud Ya'ari and additional news sources.


Will Hamas's army remain intact?
Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni have insisted that any truce must be conditioned on guarantees that Hamas will not be able to smuggle more weapons into Gaza. However, no mention has been made of the arsenal that remains in the hands of the Hamas army and allied terrorist groups.


Gaza terrorists possessed roughly 3,000 rockets, and possibly more, before the current fighting, estimates Knesset Member Yuval Steinitz (Likud), a former chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.


Bar-Ilan University's Dr. Shlomo Shapiro said that although he does not know how many rockets Hamas possesses, it is probable that the number is more than the official estimate. He pointed out that Israeli officials underestimated Hizbullah's strength before the Second Lebanon War two years ago.


Accepting IDF estimates that 50 percent of the rocket arsenal has been eliminated and that another 600 rockets have been fired on Israel. Hamas retains at least several hundred rockets, most of them short-range, that still can wreak havoc on southern Israel.


Israeli intelligence officials estimated that Hamas amassed a 15,000-strong and well-trained army before Israel launched its Cast Lead counterterrorist campaign in Gaza. Many of the Hamas fighters trained in Lebanon and Iran under Hizbullah and Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers.


Of the nearly 1,000 Gaza Arabs killed so far, only several hundred were terrorist fighters, according to well-informed sources.  


However, wiping out Hamas, as Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu wants, would require the IDF to begin "stage three," which would require a lengthy presence of the IDF in Gaza.


MK Steinitz called proposed the idea of guarantees against weapons smuggling "nonsense," noting that such supposed guarantees, with Israeli surveillance cameras and foreign observers, were supposed to work after the IDF withdrew from the area three years ago.


"If we do not pay the price of taking over the entire Gaza region, including the Philadelphi smuggling route, we will pay a bigger price later," according to MK Steinitz. He predicted that a truce now would turn Hamas into another Hizbullah and would be a repeat of Israel's agreement to end the Second Lebanon War with supposed United Nations guarantees that were to end the presence of Hizbullah in southern Lebanon.


Instead, the terrorist organization within a year smuggled three times the number of rockets it possessed before the beginning of the war.


The New York Times noted Wednesday, "Despite heavy air and ground assaults, Israel has yet to cripple the military wing of Hamas or destroy the group’s ability to launch rockets."


The military humiliation of Hamas may cause it to want a quick ceasefire, which would allow the organization to regroup.


"Greater damage has been done to Hamas’s capacity to run Gaza, with a large number of government buildings destroyed over the course of the operation," according to intelligence officials quoted by the newspaper.