Egyptian foreign minister Mohammed Kamel Amr, alongside U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, delivered the happy news that there would be a cease fire in the Gaza Strip, effective at 2:00 PM Eastern time on Wednesday. The Palestinians' terrorist "government" celebrated by firing a huge barrage of rockets at Israeli civilians. Earlier in the day, they detonated a celebratory bus in Tel Aviv, injuring 27 people.
Responsibility for the bus bomb remains a bit vague. Hamas did not formally claim responsibility for the bombing, but they praised it: "We consider it a natural response to the occupation crimes and the ongoing massacres against civilians in the Gaza Strip."
Occupation crimes? Who's "occupying" the Gaza Strip, other than them? Why, it's almost as if they think even more of Israel should be handed over to them, for an Extreme Missile Launcher Makeover. The official Hamas TV station reported by bombing by saying, "God willing, we will soon see black body bags." They must be really bummed by the cease-fire agreement, as it would theoretically cut down on the black body bags.
That's assuming fire is actually ceased. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sounded guardedly optimistic at best, warning in a statement that "more forceful action may be employed if the cease-fire deal is unsuccessful," according to Fox News. However, he expressed gratitude for American and Egyptian assistance in arranging the deal, which he said was "at this time, the best thing for Israel."
The Israelis used the final hours before the cease-fire was announced to run up their score in the Gaza Strip, taking out a city block worth of "government ministries" that the IDF says were part of the Hamas command-and-control structure. Some lovely secondary explosions from detonating hidden munitions were observed after the strike. The Israelis also took out the empty home of a banker in Gaza City, continuing an interesting pattern of targeting Hamas' financial infrastructure.
There was more "celebratory gunfire" after the cease-fire went into effect, so Hamas must be really happy about it. But they don't seem like the winners in this latest round of hostilities, which is one reason for skepticism that a lasting truce will develop. At the time of this writing, none of the major demands made by Hamas, including the end of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, have been met. The IDF did a lot of damage to key Hamas personnel, weapons, and infrastructure. Once those random rocket attacks pushed the Israelis into a military response, they prosecuted a carefully chosen list of targets with brisk efficiency.
The efforts of Hamas to realign Middle Eastern politics in their favor seem to have been only partially successful; they got some tough talk out of Egypt and Turkey, but now Egypt is supposedly responsible for maintaining the peace - they are "assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of international peace," according to Hillary Clinton. If Egypt takes that responsibility seriously, it won't be the outcome Hamas wanted.
The Israelis were able to demonstrate the skill of their military forces once again, which is not a spectacle her prospective enemies enjoy watching. They also showed off their Iron Dome missile defense system to great effect - something that might change the cost/benefit analyses of Hamas' missile suppliers. 1400 rockets fired into Israel killed four civilians and one soldier. That's not a lot of bang for the buck, and Palestinian terror now stands deprived of both bang and bucks. Maybe they won't be able to afford anything but responsible, productive civilization now. We can always hope. It's not as though Israel would grow bored from a lack of enemies.
Update: Comedian Jon Lovitz nails it, via Twitter: "Hamas fires rockets at Israel for three years. Silence. Israel finally has enough and fights back. And NOW the world says, 'Cease fire.'"