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Israel withdrew their troops from Gaza on Tuesday during the 72 hour truce that followed 29 days of war, which left Hamas with heavy losses. As the 72 hour truce took hold, sixteen rockets were launched by Hamas as air raids were dealt by Israel as last-minute attacks. Civilians have returned and, though Israeli troops have vacated Gaza, they still maintain a defensive perimeter. “If that goal of protecting our people from the rockets and the death squads can be done diplomatically, through this Egyptian agreement, then wonderful. We’ll be looking very closely to ensure that Hamas does in fact … live up to its obligations,” Mark Regev said, a spokesman for the Israeli prime minister.
Hamas, a blacklisted terrorist organization that has power over the Gaza strip, has been sent to Cairo for the truce as a Palestinian representative due to its enhanced popularity after its attacks on Israel. Their two key demands are for Israel to lift its blockade, and for Gaza’s border crossings to be open. Prior to the truce, Israel had been eliminating the Hamas tunnels that led into Israel, which were a leading factor in entry points for Palestinian troops. For Israel, to lift the blockade does not seem possible for they do not want anything to cross into the Gaza strip that may be used to construct additional tunnels. Israel’s take is that the tunnels put Israeli civilians in danger. However, Israel does allow materials used for construction to pass through the blockade as long as they are for projects under organizations not affiliated with Palestine, such as the United Nations.
The Israeli army says that even though they inflicted heavy losses on Hamas, and though troops have been pulled, Hamas is still a viable threat. One of Israel’s demands is for Hamas’s long range rockets to be removed to a place where they are unable to use them against Israel. Israel’s safety is of utmost concern and for Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, there must be some proof that the rockets will be eliminated or reduced. “The military capabilities of Hamas were not destroyed and the Israeli army failed to eliminate important military and political officers in Hamas,” Ely Karmon said, a researcher at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center.
The problem Gaza is facing is that their power, water, and medicines are swiftly dwindling. With no airport, limited areas to fish and no means of trade outside the Gaza strip, the civilians within Gaza are left desolate as long as the Israeli blockade is active, whereas a cease-fire means peace for Israel. Due to this fact, Hamas rejected original offers for cease-fire. Egypt, now the main mediator for the truce between Israel and Hamas, has made progress where the United States and United Nations both failed. There are also ties to this struggle for Egypt for, like Israel, they also destroyed tunnels that were used by Hamas. Hamas hopes, as part of the negotiations, that Egypt will open the Rafah border crossing and begin the transfer of money, such as Qatari, between Gaza. This would strongly benefit Gaza, for it would give the citizens some infrastructure and allow them a trade route other than through the Israeli blockade. The mediation role for Egypt has been made easier with the withdrawal of Israeli troops and Hamas’s losses, which has left them devastated.
By Jordan Lewis