Who Won in Gaza? Body Language and the Cease-Fire

The way the Palestinians and Israelis delivered the news of the truce was telling. Might the blockade be lifted?

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ALESSIO ROMENZI FOR TIME

A Hamas government office is seen from a nearby building after Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on Nov. 21, 2012

The Understanding Regarding Cease-Fire in Gaza Strip runs only one page and, even counting headings, just 24 lines. But it’s what flickered between those lines that appears to account for the vastly different demeanors of the enemies agreeing to it.

Both Israel and Hamas vowed to stop the shooting that has gone on in and around Gaza for eight days, leaving more than 160 people dead — mostly Palestinians, five of them Israelis. Yet a somber air clung to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he announced the cessation of hostilities from Jerusalem. In contrast, while facing the cameras in Cairo, Hamas chairman Khaled Meshaal was almost as animated as the streets of Gaza City, which were ecstatic with the sound of celebratory gunfire.

The Palestinians may have something to celebrate. Beyond the actual cessation of hostilities, the cease-fire deal makes a promise: to “improve conditions for the people in the Gaza Strip,” as Hillary Clinton said in announcing the understanding. The text itself speaks of “opening the crossings and facilitating the transfer of goods and refraining from restricting residents’ free movement.” In what is sometimes called the world’s largest prison, that sounds like a significant change — one for which Hamas will take full credit if it comes true.

(MORE: How the Gaza Truce Makes Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood a Peace Player)

“The blockade can be lifted off Gaza,” Meshaal proclaimed. The statement carried a hopeful lilt, but to judge by the sound of the Israeli officials appearing on satellite news channels through the evening, it suggested can may well become will. For at least five years, Israel’s navy has barred ships from approaching Gaza’s coast, a blockade that, when combined with Israel’s former draconian restrictions on foodstuffs allowed into the enclave by land, inspired pro-Palestinian activists to try to challenge the Israelis at sea. Israel’s navy invariably stopped the flotillas — in the most famous case, killing six Turks in May 2010 while boarding the Mavi Marmara in the “flotilla fiasco.” Once captured, the vessels were always diverted to an Israeli port.

But on CNN, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, suggested it will be enough in the future to simply inspect boats bound for Gaza, to assure they are not smuggling the arms shipments that have been found in the past. “It’s not a blockade in the full sense,” Oren said. “We reserve the right to inspect ships.”

Netanyahu’s chief spokesman, Mark Regev, was also laying the foundations for a new approach. “The restrictions were imposed as a result of hostilities,” he told al-Jazeera English, implying that, if rockets no longer fly out of Gaza, holding half of Israel hostage to their bomb shelters, life would get easier for residents of the strip as well. The goal, Regev said, is “a future that’s better for both Gazans and Israelis.”

“If the south’s quiet, that enables us to be more forthcoming,” he explained to CNN.

No Egyptian official was making the rounds of the English-language channels, so it was less clear whether the main land crossing into Gaza — the Rafah station on its western border with Egypt — would finally be thrown open. But that was one of the demands put forward by Hamas, and Meshaal was effusive in his praise for his hosts — a government now dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood movement that gave birth to Hamas. “Palestine lives through the conscience of Egypt,” Meshaal said. “Egypt did not sell out the resistance.”

(PHOTOS: A New Gaza War: Israel and Palestinian Militants Trade Fire)

He also offered words intended to reassure anyone — Egyptian or Palestinian — who fear that ideology or geography will draw Gaza into Cairo’s orbit as it emerges from isolation, or exists apart from the West Bank, which is governed by another Palestinian faction, the Fatah party led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. “Gaza is part of the Palestinian homeland,” Meshaal said. “It is not a separate entity.”

It’s too early to tell whether the fine print in the cease-fire understanding will, in fact, come to anything. The text says only that issues like freedom of movement “shall be dealt with” after the cease-fire is 24 hours old. That assumes it will hold. A handful of rockets were launched in the first hours, though Israeli officials said they expected that. “There is a braking distance of a day or two till Hamas will fully stop,” an Israeli military official tells TIME. “The major question is if they will continue to shoot. We bought time and quiet.”

Indeed, on Wednesday night, Netanyahu’s government brought out a tape measure to assess the accomplishments of eight days of warfare, almost all of them from the air: targets struck, 1,500; senior operatives killed, 7; rockets launched toward Israel, 1,506; number intercepted by Iron Dome, 421. The almost precise parity — between rockets launched out of Gaza and Israeli shells fired in — may have been telling. The Israel Defense Forces spokesman proclaimed that Operation Pillar of Defense had “inflicted severe damage to Hamas and its military capabilities.” The stated goal of the operation when it began was “restoring deterrence,” yet nearly as many projectiles flew out of Gaza on the seventh day as on the third and fourth.

“They wanted to destroy the infrastructure of the resistance of Hamas,” Meshaal said. “I don’t think they have done so much. We can count how many buildings they destroyed … They have nothing else to show, and our rockets continued to strike them, until the last moment. The free people cannot be deterred. The Israeli adventure has failed.”

— With reporting by Aaron J. Klein / Tel Aviv

MORE: A Bus Bomb Before the Cease-Fire: Tel Aviv’s Revived Traumas

48 comments
SKYPowers
SKYPowers

All International Forces Joint in WW3: To Eliminate islam & the evil kaaba. 

USA: Air Strikes clean the bases at the Middle East. 

Russia Germany: Leopard Tanks joint in Battlefields. 

France: Snipers ready Kill the stupid islamic leaders & shallow old clerics. 

UK: Ready to lauch Rockets from the deep seas anytime anywhere. 

Asia Africa: Mighty soldiers ready joint in Battlefields.

rojer2050
rojer2050

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rojer2050
rojer2050

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KennethAlanGrossberg
KennethAlanGrossberg

If Gaza is "sometimes called the world's largest prison" it is because of Hamas' authoritarian rule by terror, not because of the Israeli attempt to keep weapons of war out of the strip.

worleyeoe
worleyeoe

Israel did. They now know how effective their Iron Dome system is against a steady stream of rockets. The only question is how successful would their Patriot systems be against longer range missiles from Iran? My guess is they would be at least as effective. Finally, if I had to hazard a guess, Hamas started all this at the behest of Iran to see how effective Iron Dome would be. If Israel attacks Iran's nuclear complex, it's almost a given that Iran's initial, direct response to Israel would be through Hezbollah and Hamas via their rockets.

AlKausar5
AlKausar5

A ceasefire is better than a small war.

SamuelYap
SamuelYap

What I see in the resolution of the Israel-Hamas conflict are the forces of moderation and self understanding coming to play and increasing among the Muslim world. This is one peace dividend from the Arab Spring, as more Muslim nations converge upon their more fundamentalistic brethren to ease their extremism. For to stop world terrorism and extremism coming mostly from Muslim Fundamentalists, the main problem solvers will not come from the West, but from fellow Muslim Moderates, who understand what Islam is truly about. The Irag and Afghan experiment wherein the West pounds on the Talibans to submission did not succeed. But if their fellow Muslims will be the ones to work on them, these Muslim extremists will be more likely to heed and hear the message, and thus the effort at moderation will be more successful. In the Israeli-Hamas conflict, the might military superiority of Israel will not save the day. It will be the Arab nations dealing with Hamas that will solve the problem.

gornisht
gornisht

Does this writer suffer from delusions? The ceasefire is nothing more than a mirage. Hamas has nothing to lose by lobbing rockets(once again into Israel). The media is on their side. To state that the borders should be open in Gaza to allow military hardware from Iran, or any other rogue state, is bizarre. In the near future, we will see yet another Egytian prime minister holding talks with Clinton.

In essence, we are seeing two different cultures reacting to violence. The primitive people of Hamas cheering the bombing of a bus , and Israeli's being sombre.

The assumption many people make, is that a primitive culture can change over night!  Not true!!!

ColinHu
ColinHu

Palestine won. Israel could had killed more of them but were scared that their economy would go down. Continuing the war would had favored Israel. As USA was ready to back Israel anyways.. even if we said no, our navy are already there waiting.

JanetWilliams
JanetWilliams

When will we learn?  The "Palestinians" will continue to shoot rockets at Israel.  And Hamas will claim it's not them but some OTHER jihadi murder group.

PlumbLine
PlumbLine

There will now be tremendous pressure on Israel to give up more land for peace. The U.S. and the U.N. will now try and force Israel into a 2 state solution. If that happens, the hatred would not end. Iran and other extremists would simply use a new state to fan the fires of hatred even more, except the new palestinian state would become armed to the teeth by those of likemind...

FrankRommey
FrankRommey

The headline should have been: "Who Lost In Gaza." And the biggest loser is the US Republican Party and their masters, the evangelical nutjobs.  There won't be  Harmagedōn in Palestine... Israel and Netanyahu and his friends (which includes one Mitt Romney) lost to the lack of support from the world, Hamas lost after spending their arsenal for naught and the Muslim Brotherhood lost to a doses of political reality and hard economical truth. That leaves those who have no say in the squabble in the winner side, the civilians in all those countries, who won't have to pay the price that every war exacts from the people. 

mcmzarook
mcmzarook

Who won? In a battle between David and Goliath. It was also a battle between Air Power vs. Missile Power. Of course if destruction is the yard stick to test who won, certainly ISRAEL. But "Hamas" lablelled as a terrorist organisation by Israel and the West got brand new colouring. Three heavy weights - Egypt, Turkey, Qatar openly stood by Hamas while many foreign ministers visited Gaza at the height of crisis. Hamas is no more a "Pariah". The changing geo-political situation in the Arab world will certainly stength Hamas.

USNews
USNews

Those are Christianity Won. Do muslims feel Israelphobia or Christphobia after all Human Beings Crucify islams? 

Visit: SacrificeislamBlogspotCom & Arab-apologizeBlogspotCom

ibtlius
ibtlius

"Who won in Gaza?" ..... Is this for real?  Is this Time magazine or  the National Observer ?

Anyone can write articles on Time now?

Tutifruit
Tutifruit

IN WAR- there are no winners. It is a "secret" well known to people in war zone.

I am sorry, but what I read here seems very much biased against Israel,  and yes I am an Israeli

Several issues are part of the reason Israel had "only" 5 people lives lost during the 8 days of war. One is the Iron Dome,another is the shelters and the pause imposed on a vast region.

That is also a major difference in the way HAMAS operations. They spend money on offensive weapons only. Israelis on the other hand are putting many dollars on defensive systems, such as shelters, monitoring, and Iron Dome (yes, with USA kind help)

It was Golda Meir which said that war will end once the Arabs will love their children more then hating us (Israelis / Jews).

Both sides suffer, stop been so naive. It may be a better Photo Op of more politically correct to be sympathetic to those who show it better... we had our refugees- but it was not a nice photo op- they did not put the cars full with mattresses  and donkeys on the roads.

The exodus and migration was done peacefully during rockets attacks in trains and buses,  

1500 rockets in 8 days! on cities and civilians is not the war of a choice or of just, it is on civil population, and would have been no accepted by any sane country.  

If only one result of this joke of a cease fire will be 2-3 years with no rockets over the south parts of Israel - that would be a blessing.

I am 53 years old, and ever since I was 7 in 1967, I know about war. I have but one regret- that I was not smart enough or willing enough as a young person., to leave this parts of the globe, and build a life in a more relaxed places. Now it is impossible....

Living in constant stress have not done good.

Martian_14
Martian_14

Is this a football game? 

The gazans lost because hamas is still in power and the religious fundamentalism will continue to prevail, iran will continu to smuggle weapons to the gazan terr0rists...

The Israelis lost because 5 of its citizens died...

Hard to say who won...

frankwall1965
frankwall1965

The people of Gaza won't be bombed anymore. No more rockets will land on Israel. You could say that military, nobody won. Yet the civilians will feel like they won. But if you look at how the situation developed over the last couple of years, it won't take much to reignite this conflict. Just one idiot with a rocket could bring the Israeli Airforce straight back. Hopefully the truce will continue to hold.

ramzialadin
ramzialadin

Jews or Muslims, put them together in Canada or the U.S and they can be good neighbors but over there in the so called "holy land" , killing each others been going on for thousands of years if the Christians are added in to the hate triangle.Hamas is supported by the Saudis, Qataris and the wonderful Arab spring countries like Libya & Egypt but not Iran. I understand Hezbullah and Iran are very much connected because of them being Shia. Hamas and Iran actually hate each other.

arvay
arvay

RE: the Israeli "tape measure."

Some historical figures:

Total German deaths in WWII -- 6,750,000 to 8,800,000

Total Soviet deaths in WWII ---  26,600,000

The result: 

 http://www.ww2incolor.com/d/41253-1/ww2+Stalingrad+037-1520

 http://resources1.news.com.au/images/2011/09/23/1226144/119277-world-war-ii.jpg

Total Israeli population --  7,765,700

Egyptian population -- about 90million

Syrian population  -- 20,820,311

Jordanian population -- 6,181,000

 Lebanese population -- 4,259,405

Palestinian population --  4,019,433

USAs
USAs

Israelphobia:Do muslims feel Israelphobia or Christphobia after all Human Beings Crucify islams?- SacrificeislamBlogspotCom -- Arab-apologizeBlogspotCom -

lbjack
lbjack

That's right, TIME, give the mass murderers and pathological liars the last word.  Your amoral equivalence between Israel and Hamas, presumably in the name of "balanced coverage," betrays your malignant nature.  For as long as I can remember, you have promoted the Palestinians-as-victims lie, acted as apologists for terrorists and made no secret of your hatred of Israel, if not outright anti-Semitism, not only in your slanted coverage but in the screeds of your left-wing pundits.

Even now, watch the anti-Semites and Israel haters, who find your rag so convivial, slither from underneath their wet rocks, spewing their venom.  TIME Magazine, mouthpiece of mass murderers and panderer of the delusionals, liars and idiots who follow them.

themwntl
themwntl

"""CBS correspondent Charlie D'Agata reported that in the streets ofGaza, militants shot dead six Palestinians suspected of collaboratingwith Israel. One body was dragged through the street as peoplecheered."""This is the growing pains of the Arab Spring we musthave patience with. Remember these people are democratically elected. Itis their right to kill people in the streets if they choose! Would yourather we tell them what to do in a very patronizing and paternalisticway!?Killing people is wrong!? That is just a Western bias wehave foisted on these people for centuries. They must be allowed theattonomy to find their own path in this world. That will necesssarilyinvolve things you are uncomfortable with like supressing women andpersecuting Christians, but would you rather tell them how to live intheir country!?Frankly, I am shocked at how judgemental the West is. They won the election and elections have consequences. Get over it!

APS
APS

It too early to tell who won.  If the Palestinians think twice next time before firing a barrage of rockets on Israeli citizens, then Israel will have been victorious.  If not, it will prove that the cease fire was premature, and Israel shouldn't be so naive and forgiving the next time 'round. 

My bet is on continued Arab terror unfortunately.  The Arab world has given us the genocide in Darfur, the gassing of the kurds, the slaughter of Copts, the "honor kiling" and oppression of women, the stringing up of homosexuals, the endless Sunnis killing Shiite killing Sunnis ad nausea.  Given that mindset of religious bigotry, racism, sexism and homophobia, what's a little Jew hatred after all.

elcidharth
elcidharth

As long as Israel keeps their nasty attitude, with little moral and military support from Uncle Sam, the mess may keep rising. Stop giving aid to Israel and stop Jewish mafia from pressuring government from taking proper measures to settle Palestinian legitimate demands.

...and I am Sid Harth@elcidharth.com

lmarkle
lmarkle

Headings that start with "Who Won in Gaza?" do NOT help the situation currently going on in that area:  this is NOT a boxing match, not a soccer/football game, not a competition.  This continues to be a situation that results with the tragic loss of life of civilians and those that are powerless bi-standers that wonder what the next day in their individual lives may have in store for themselves and their loved ones.  Please stop--all of you that hold some level of power in the media--with this ever-worsening trend of "glamorized headlines" to see which media center can grab the most attention for a given tragic event.

RobertCassis
RobertCassis

Won?  Nobody wins at war.  The Palestinians have little left.  If the rockets stop Israel gets what it wants.  Probably the biggest immediate beneficiary is Egypt.

RaimoKangasniemi
RaimoKangasniemi

Palestinians won, but they paid a heavy price for it: At least 169 murdered, 1250 wounded. Hamas will take the credit, but it was the Palestinian people who won it, even when all the so-called  Western leaders eagerly gave their support for the killing of the people in Gaza by the brutal, occupying apartheid state of Israel.

Netanyahu and Lieberman lost, because according to Israeli polls made today, the Israeli electorate, drunk on the blood and suffering of the people whose oppression is the basis of their own daily lives, wanted the killing to go on by a margin of 70-24.

ColinHu
ColinHu

@worleyeoe    How did israel win? 1. Hamas is alive and still the ruler. 2. Hamas started the war and went unpunished. 3. Israel could had killed Hamas and more but didn't continue. 4. Hamas got trade blockade dropped against his country.  5. Many muslim countries are now supporting Hamas.   Ok. So Hamas win. Israel got nothing out of the deal. Just another truce until the next time. Count how many truces. 

Tutifruit
Tutifruit

@ColinHu  Yes, the US NAVY is here, but not sure it is for this reason... it might also been to "fish" out all Americans form here, in case things will get into regional war. 

It was not the economy - as the main reason. If you ask me- the risk was too high, and the overall success would have declined dramatically once the army would have marched in.

JanetWilliams
JanetWilliams

@Tutifruit    Of COURSE it's biased against Israel.  The lefty/lib side has made a devil's bargain with the jihadis.  They back them for their own reasons.Israel should have flattened all of Gaza years ago.

falcon269
falcon269

@Martian_14 Five Israelis and over 150 Palestinians. You have an interesting calculus selection of statistics!

JanetWilliams
JanetWilliams

@frankwall1965 You gotta be kidding.  The "Palestinians" will continue to shoot rockets into Israel.  And Hamas will lie and pretend it's a different jihadi killer group.  That they somehow don't control.  Yeah, right.And eventually, Israel will have to fight back again.

JanetWilliams
JanetWilliams

@ramzialadin It all depends on how many Muslims there are.  When they're one or two percent, they kinda behave.  Once they're over 5% they get violent.  Western Europe has tons of towns and areas that have been totally taken over by their Muslim immigrants.  To the point where even the local police don't dare enter.

worleyeoe
worleyeoe

@ColinHu Are you in the 5th grade? Did you even read my post? Do you not understand what inference is? The big prize is Iran, not Hamas. Now go back and read my post closely and then wait as long as it takes for the "ah ha" moment to arrive.

ColinHu
ColinHu

Hope for your safety Tutifruit! Happy Thanksgiving from NYC.

FrankRommey
FrankRommey

@JanetWilliams @FrankRommey Of course I can, but, does the truth needs primping? On this topic, look who takes the most space and you find the least connection with the reality. Truth is meaningless to those whose only recourse is to lie in order of feeling relevant... 

Tutifruit
Tutifruit

@ColinHu  MY favorite place- NYC just one after Haifa where I live. Have a  wonderful Thanksgiving. 

FrankRommey
FrankRommey

@worleyeoe You got to be kidding... your comment only shows where you get your information... keep it up and we will breath freer and with no worries about your kind... 

worleyeoe
worleyeoe

@FrankRommey Frank, your president Obama has done some serious fib telling. And your GOP are nutjobs comment seems to be one of those The Pot Calling the Kettle Black type of things.