On Wednesday, November 12, Israel deliberately provoked Hamas by breaking a two day long truce, carrying out some 20 airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, the heaviest barrage on the Palestinian territory in four years, and, for good measure, to make sure the provocation worked, assassinating Gaza's supreme military commander Ahmed Jabari.
It killed him even though it was he that was mainly responsible for arranging the release of Shalit, even though his interest in entering into a long-term truce agreement had been communicated to Israeli authorities.
When Gaza expectedly responded with a fresh barrage of rockets, Israel used that as an excuse to continue its murderous attack on Gaza and launched its Operation Pillar of Defense.
It pummeled Gaza -- again, barely four years after it infamous Operation Cast Lead -- for eight straight days, day and night, launching well over 1500 deadly airstrikes, shelling targets from tanks and gunboats, killing 161 Palestinians, including a large number of innocent men, women, children and even babies, wiping out families, injuring at least 840, flattening residential buildings, Hamas leader's he4adquarters, police stations, several other infrastructures, targeting and damaging dozens more, including a hospital and the international media center.
Then, on Wednesday , November 21, under intense international pressure, Israel signed with Hamas a truce agreement.
The agreement provides, for Hamas: an end to Israeli airstrikes and assassinations of Hamas militants wanted by Israel. For Israel the agreement provides a halt to rocket fire from Gaza and attempts at cross-border incursions into Israeli territory from Gaza and especially from the Sinai area.
However, the agreement left the door open to a possible ground incursion of Gaza at a later date.
People all over the world heaved a sigh of relief. Gazans celebrated by firing guns into the air, dancing in the streets, distributing sweets and waving Hamas flags.
It is to be hoped that the truce will last. Unfortunately all indications are that violence will flare up once again, perhaps sooner than what we wish.
To begin with, already there are differences as to what the agreement provides, especially with reference to the opening of checkpoints.
According an Associated Press report on November 22, the agreement provides for Israel "discussing easing an Israeli blockade constricting the Gaza Strip." Khaled Mashal, Gazan leader in exile, insists that "the document provides for the opening of all crossings."
According to a copy of the agreement obtained by AP, the agreement provides, after a 24 hour cooling off period, for "opening the crossings and facilitating the movement of people and transfer of goods and refraining from restricting residents' free movement."
Under the Israeli blockade, Israel continues to restrict the movement of certain goods through Israeli controlled crossings. There is a near complete ban on exports, limited movement of people leaving the territory and limits on construction materials that Israel says could be put to military use.
The agreement is vague on what restrictions Israel would lift.
There is also the question of Gaza's southern passenger terminal on the Egyptian border, not to mention whether Israel will have the right to continue intercepting and seizing, in international waters, aid flotillas headed for Gaza or limiting Gazans from fishing in their own waters outside or even within the three mile water rights, as it now does.
On any of these points a difference can be interpreted as a rejection/violation of the truce agreement and violence can restart.