The Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Will Not Last

AP Photo/Khalil Hamra

On Thursday evening, the Israeli security cabinet unanimously voted to accept a ceasefire, so long as Hamas does not launch more rockets into Israel. The ceasefire began at 2:00 a.m. local time.

While I pray for the peace of Jerusalem, I doubt that this ceasefire will last. It may last a few weeks, a few months, perhaps even almost a year, but sooner or later, violence will erupt again.

Contrary to the suggestions of many on the Left in America, Israel is not the aggressor in the current conflict.

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.

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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.

Eugene Kontorovich, an Israeli scholar at the Antonin Scalia School of Law at George Mason University, explained the situation well.

“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.

In one chilling example, an IDF officer called Hamas to warn about an imminent missile strike.

“Listen, we are going to bomb the building,” the IDF officer said, telling the Hamas soldier to evacuate as soon as possible.

“You want to bomb?” the Palestinian answered, “Bomb whatever you want.”

“No, brother, we need to do everything we can so you don’t die,” the Israeli responded.

“We want to die,” the Palestinian shot back.

“But you have a responsibility for children’s lives,” the IDF officer replied.

“If the children need to die, then they’ll die,” the Hamas operative insisted.

“God forbid! God forbid! What, do you want to die?” the Israeli asked, aghast.

“This is how we reveal your cruelty,” the Hamas operative said.

Hamas may be intent on killing every single Israeli it can, but it is also waging a propaganda war.

Hamas is outmanned and outgunned, unless some Arab state like Jordan enters the conflict or Iran ramps up its support for the terrorist groups in Gaza and the West Bank. Yet many in America and in other countries wrongly think Israel is abusing its position. Hamas may be counting on international pressure to stop Israel’s retaliation, and this ceasefire suggests that pressure has succeeded in part.

Hamas began this conflict, and a ceasefire does not address the terrorist organization’s motivation for attacking Israel. Hamas may break this ceasefire quickly, but it may also fear losing the propaganda war by coming across as the aggressor.

Hamas took this opportunity in part because U.S. President Joe Biden has signaled tepid support for Israel and has reached out to the Palestinians and the mullahs in Iran. This weakness marks a strong contrast from former President Donald Trump’s firm support for Israel. Biden’s weakness opened the door for Hamas, and that door remains open.

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Ceasefire agreements are good news, but they often prove ephemeral. That seems rather likely in this case.