Israel and Hamas Sign Peace Agreement
On Wednesday, Nov. 14, Israel and Hamas signed an Egypt-brokered ceasefire to end an escalation of violence between the two parties that began on Sunday.
After the agreement was signed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that Hamas “begged for peace”. However, Palestinians in Gaza reportedly celebrated the signing of the ceasefire as a victory.
The past few days saw a serious increase in violence between Israelis and Palestinians along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip. Tensions escalated quickly following a botched military operation conducted by Israeli special forces in Gaza’s city of Khan Younis on Sunday.
During the operation, Hamas exchanged fire with the Israeli special forces, resulting in the death of seven Palestinians and one Israeli. Following Israel’s operation on Sunday, Hamas launched 400 rockets into southern Israel, of which around 100 were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.
Israel, in turn, claims to have targeted 100 Hamas positions with its own air raids, but civilian buildings in the Gaza Strip were also damaged.
Netanyahu’s decision to agree to a ceasefire with Hamas has been criticized by the Israeli right-wing and some residents of southern Israel who had hoped for a more aggressive response towards Hamas.
Avigdor Lieberman, a right-wing member of Netanyahu’s coalition government, resigned from his post of Defense Minister on Wednesday. In a press conference, Lieberman said he resigned because Israel had agreed to a ceasefire with Hamas, a move he called a “capitulation to terrorism”. During the press conference, he also criticized Netanyahu’s decision to allow Qatar to send $15 million to the Gaza Strip to pay the cash-strapped region’s civil servants’ salaries.
Netanyahu defended the ceasefire agreement, saying that he could see the “wider picture” of Israel’s conflict with Hamas.
It is unclear what Netanyahu’s “wider picture” is. Ha’aretz reporter Anshel Pfeffer thinks that Netanyahu intends to buy Israel time so that it can continue to economically bleed out the Gaza Strip, all the while avoiding the search for a permanent solution to the issue. Pfeffer also speculates that Netanyahu is trying to boost his popularity by portraying himself as one of Israel’s most level-headed politicians, in anticipation of Israel’s next legislative election due to be held next year.
However, Lieberman’s resignation increases the possibility that the election will take place earlier than planned. If the election takes place this year, then Netanyahu might suffer from the backlash against his decision to agree to a ceasefire with Hamas.