With the cease-fire holding as of Aug. 6 and negotiations for a comprehensive agreement underway in Cairo, quiet returned to Israel and Gaza this week, and perhaps for a while. But the impact on residents of the embattled region will be long-lasting.
Israeli analysts are tallying the score: how many rockets fired by Hamas (3,356), how many terror sites hit (4,762), how many terrorists killed (between 750 and 1,000).
From a political standpoint, Hamas has come out of the conflict in a much weakened position. After depleting its rocket arsenal (which, thanks to Iron Dome, proved largely ineffective), sending hundreds of fighters to their deaths and inviting vast destruction in Gaza, Hamas came crawling back to the same Egyptian-sponsored cease-fire agreement it could have signed weeks ago.
Israel may get much of what it asks for in the Cairo talks. Hamas, however, has little to show for its terror campaign other than the ruination of Gaza. Good luck selling that “victory” to the Palestinian people.
Israel fought valiantly in a war it did not choose, destroying Hamas infrastructure, especially 32 terror tunnels meant for launching killing sprees against Jews. The tunnels also served as conduits for lethal attacks on Israeli soldiers during this war. Eleven died in tunnel infiltrations, with 64 killed in battle overall.
We grieve for them and honor their courage. We grieve also for the innocent civilians killed in Gaza, many of them
deliberately placed in harm’s way by Hamas.
Now Israel must press its case to a world that has turned against it. Britain and Spain have suspended arms sales to Israel. Several South American countries have recalled their ambassadors, with Bolivia severing ties.
The United Nations is sure to soon pounce with a string of inquests. Hatred of Israel has morphed into naked anti-Semitism in many cities around the world. There is much repair work to be done.
Within Israel, though the civilian death toll stayed remarkably low, the echoes of sirens, the panic of bomb shelters and the stress of evacuations will be felt for a long time. Residents near Gaza may not sleep well again, with the sounds of tunnel digging, real or imagined, running through their minds. Some evacuees may never return to their homes.
In Gaza, the devastation is huge. Many have no homes to return to, even if they wanted.
It is incumbent upon the Palestinians and Israelis to extend the cease-fire into a more lasting agreement. If it cannot be peace — an ever-elusive goal — then let it at least be quiet.