The Israeli security cabinet unanimously voted to accept a ceasefire on Thursday evening, so long as Hamas honors the agreement, Channel 12 News Israel reported. The ceasefire is likely to begin Thursday night after Egyptian authorities negotiated between Israel and Hamas.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) will stop its attacks in the Gaza Strip at 2:00 a.m. on Friday (7:00 p.m. Eastern on Thursday night), according to the agreement. If Hamas continues to fire rockets at Israel, however, the IDF will resume the attack and the ceasefire will be canceled. Egypt has promised that it will be able to convince Hamas to stop firing rockets.
It remains to be seen whether or not Hamas will agree to the ceasefire.
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The current conflict began after Palestinian protesters violently attacked Israeli police while protesting an Israeli Supreme Court case that would likely uphold the lawful eviction of squatters who refused to pay rent after they agreed to acknowledge a Jewish land claim over their homes. The protesters attacked police, who responded with crowd-control measures that injured hundreds.
Hamas responded by firing thousands of rockets into Israel. The Iron Dome interceptor system has blocked the vast majority of the rockets, but the attacks have killed at least ten people in Israeli, including two children.
Israel has responded with rockets of their own, and Gaza has reported at least 230 Palestinians killed, including 65 children. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has claimed to have killed several Hamas commanders in the strikes.
According to the IDF, many of Hamas’ rockets have misfired, so the Palestinian terrorist group may be responsible for many of the deaths in the Gaza Strip. Israel has claimed that Hamas misfired 350 rockets in the first 3 days, killing innocent civilians in Gaza.
Before Israel sends precision-strike rockets, it first warns occupants of the targeted building, allowing people time to leave before destroying buildings that allegedly house Hamas weapons and intelligence. Hamas gives no such warnings to Israeli targets.
“International law requires all combatants — Israel and Hamas — to adhere to the principle of distinction. Distinction means military and civilian forces need to be separated and clearly marked, so that both sides can target each other’s military without killing civilians. Mixing the military amongst the civilians, putting military targets — military installations, rocket facilities — in or in proximity to civilian targets, itself is a violation of the law of war, and that’s what Hamas is doing,” Kontorovich explained.
“On the other hand, in fighting a war, the law of war and the Geneva Conventions understand it’s impossible to have a war without civilian casualties and the rule is those civilian casualties need to be proportionate to the military objective. Right now, Israel has destroyed much of Hamas’ capabilities, and the civilian casualties — while regrettable — are both proportionate and a direct result of Hamas’ using civilians as human shields,” he added.
While the ceasefire may give grounds for hope that the conflict is drawing to a close, the key issue is not whether or not Israel will back down but how high a cost is Hamas willing pay to keep attacking Israel. Will Hamas decide that it has lost enough military bases and terrorist allies, and decide to stop the attacks? Or will the terrorist group continue to violate international law, thinking that the world will support its attacks against Israel?