‘CAST LEAD’ – DAY 22 [01/17/2009]
* Eventually the Israeli Cabinet decided, on Sunday 01/18/2009 at 02:00, on a unilateral cease fire. The last day of the operation, Saturday 01/17/2009, witnessed a sharp decrease in the exchange of fire. The Hamas fired about 21 rockets toward Israel, two of the rockets, toward Beer-Sheba, were fired few minutes after the cease fire was declared in an attempt to say the ”last word”. Hamas said that the cease fire does not oblige their organization. In Israel there is ambiguousness about the cease fire.
* The cease fire is based on Egyptian promises to seriously cope with the weapons smuggling through Rafah Tunnels and an Intelligence and security pact to form a joint international task force that will follow the path of the weapons smuggled to Gaza from Iran. Three European leaders: French President Nikola Sarkozi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British PM Gordon Brown are scheduled to shortly visit Israel to pledge their commitment to help and join The Intelligence and security task force and support Israel. Giving the NATO performances against Somali Pirates, the European commitment is more a diplomatic one rather then and efficient active support to really block the route of weapons from Iran to Gaza.
* The issue of the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held in Gaza by Hamas, and the opening of the border crossings from Gaza to Israel and to Egypt is not addressed in the Israeli anouncement and are subject to further negotiation between Israel, Egypt and eventually also, indirectly, the Hamas.
* Operation Cast Lead ended – the struggle on the real outcome of the operation just began.