Ceasefire takes hold after shaky start

Just after 11:30 pm last night, the time at which the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire was due to come into force, Islamic Jihad terrorists fired another salvo of rockets, designed to show, as in previous rounds of fighting, that they had the last word. This time, Israel Air Force planes, helicopters and drones were waiting for them, and after they attacked, the rocket fire quickly died down.

The ceasefire, which this time received official Israeli confirmation in an announcement by the head of the National Public Diplomacy Directorate Lior Hayat, was arranged after a day and a half of talks, with Egyptian mediation and with the involvement of Hamas leaders. The Egyptians gave Islamic Jihad a promise that they would act to obtain the release of two prisoners, Bassam al-Saadi and Khalil Awawdeh. Al-Saadi, described as the head of Islamic Jihad in northern Samaria, was arrested by Israeli forces a week ago. It was his arrest that led Islamic Jihad to prepare an ambush with anti-tank weapons, to the closure of roads, and to the Israeli attack.

Awawdeh, an administrative detainee who is due to be released within two months in any case, is on hunger strike and his health is deteriorating. Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nakhale, interviewed in Tehran, said, “Our brother Khalil Awawdeh will be released tomorrow to hospital and then to his home, and Egypt has undertaken to act for the release of Sheikh Bassam al-Saadi as early as possible.”

Altogether in Operation Breaking Dawn, Islamic Jihad fired about 550 rockets towards Israel. About a third of them landed within the Gaza Strip, and 96% of the remainder were either shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome system or fell in open areas. Damage on the Israeli side was minor. Some ten people have been slightly or moderately injured, and there are several people suffering from shock. Islamic Jihad sustained heavy losses among its leadership. About twenty of the organization’s fighters and commanders were killed, including two divisional commanders. Taysir Jabari, commander of the northern region, was killed in the first seconds of the operation, and Khaled Mansour, commander of the southern region, was killed a day later. Many of the organization’s rocket launchers and dumps were destroyed, and it sustained a severe blow to morale.

The pressure of the organization’s members within the Gaza Strip against the intention of the external leadership to continue the fighting prevailed in the end, and it responded positively to Egyptian mediators’ efforts to bring about a ceasefire. Another failure was in firing its rockets, and not just because of Iron Dome. A third of the rockets landed within the Gaza Strip, and caused the deaths of fifteen people, most of them children and teenagers. Although attempts were made to conceal this, the street knows and understands. Between five and eight other non-combatants were killed in IDF attacks.

Hamas has remained on the sidelines, and Israel sees that as an important achievement, both because it means that deterrence against Hamas, economic and other, has been maintained, and because of what seems like a shift in the direction of moderation, even if small , perhaps opening the way to a “hudna”, a long-term truce.

The IDF and the security establishment view the operation with great satisfaction, because of the high-quality intelligence that led to the elimination of senior Islamic Jihad figures in the surprise opening of the operation, because of the follow-up attacks, and because of the performance of the Iron Dome system.

Israel stresses that the terms of the ceasefire do not limit the IDF operationally in any way. To illustrate this, last night, in the village of Rummanah near Jenin, the IDF demolished the homes of As’ad al-Rifai and Subhi Abu Shakir, who carried out the attack in Elad in which three people were murdered: Yonatan Havakuk, Boaz Gol, and Oren Ben-Yiftah.

Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on August 8, 2022.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2022.

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