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Tentative Truce Takes Hold in Hamas-Israeli Standoff

By November 23, 2012

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gaza hamas rocket fireEgypt has brokered a ceasefire agreement that looks set to put an end to the latest round of hostilities between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement of Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

Both sides claim victory, as was the case in Israel's attack on Gaza in 2009, and after the 2006 war between Israel and the Lebanese Shiite militia of Hezbollah. Israeli government claims it has sufficiently depleted Hamas' arsenal of long-range rockets (capable of targeting major urban centers inside Israel) to call and end to the aerial campaign which escalated after the assassination of Hamas' senior military commander on November 14 (see previous post).

But 70% of the Israeli public apparently disagrees, even if Israelis remain wary of another ground incursion into Gaza - a gamble Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unwilling to take less than two months before parliamentary elections. Whether his last-minute caution comes back to bite him at the polls remains to be seen.

I can't seen any major change in the balance of military power between the two sides, even if Israel now faces hostile governments in Egypt and Turkey. Nevertheless, many Palestinians see Hamas as a political victor of the standoff, with a plausible argument that Hamas' fierce resistance discouraged Netanyahu from launching a ground invasion, depriving the Israeli leader of a triumph that would have sealed his (widely expected) victory at the January polls.

Chris McGreal at The Guardian reports on the mood in Gaza City and how Israel's attack may have boosted, rather than weakened Hamas.

Read in detail about the history and background of the Israel-Hamas Conflict.

Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.

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