Monday, January 19, 2009

Israeli Troops Have Begun to Withdraw From Gaza

Over the weekend, Israel declared a cease fire to its three-week offensive in Gaza. Hamas, in response, declared a week-long truce, purportedly the time it should take for Israeli troops to withdraw from Gaza. The Israeli military has even begun to withdraw some of its forces from the devastated Gaza Strip. The Hamas government’s ceasefire is predicated on Israeli forces leaving the strip in the next week, but so far no timetable has been set.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says the troops will withdraw “as soon as possible,” which likely doesn’t mean physically possible because all the troops could’ve easily left in the time since Olmert’s announcement if that was the case.

Rather, Olmert says the pullout will come when the situation is “stable.” This too provides little clue of the government’s intention, as arguably the situation between Israel and the Gaza Strip has not been stable in Israel’s 60-plus years of existence. Negotiations for a more permanent ceasefire in the strip will continue in Cairo.

The uncomfortable truth about this break in the violence though is that neither Israel nor Hamas "made any concessions, except to stop fighting temporarily."

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