The Israeli assault on Gaza was triggered Nov. 8 when the IDF crossed the border and murdered Ahmed Younis Khader Abu Daqqa, a 13-year-old boy playing football in his front yard: the official explanation for this action was an alleged weapons cache, supposedly stored nearby, but no credible evidence supporting this contention has come to light. In retaliation, Hamas launched a — generally ineffective — counterattack, and the conflict escalated.
However, there had been rumblings for months of the oncoming Israeli assault, and this incident was merely a pretext: the real reason is that the Israelis were deathly afraid, not of Hamas’s pathetic attempts to make a dent in “Iron Dome,” but of the prospects for a general ceasefire, albeit not a settlement of the outstanding issues, which was in the works well before Netanyahu unleashed the latest blitzkrieg.
According to Gershon Baskin, initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Shalit, Ahmed al-Jabari, leader of the military wing of Hamas, was ready for a peace deal — which was in the works in the days before Jabari was assassinated in a targeted Israeli strike:
“My indirect dealings with Mr. Jabari were handled through my Hamas counterpart, Ghazi Hamad, the deputy foreign minister of Hamas, who had received Mr. Jabari’s authorization to deal directly with me….
“Passing messages between the two sides, I was able to learn firsthand that Mr. Jabari wasn’t just interested in a long-term cease-fire; he was also the person responsible for enforcing previous cease-fire understandings brokered by the Egyptian intelligence agency. Mr. Jabari enforced those cease-fires only after confirming that Israel was prepared to stop its attacks on Gaza. On the morning that he was killed, Mr. Jabari received a draft proposal for an extended cease-fire with Israel, including mechanisms that would verify intentions and ensure compliance. This draft was agreed upon by me and Hamas’s deputy foreign minister, Mr. Hamad, when we met last week in Egypt.”
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