Netanyahu buys time by rejecting Gaza ceasefire (2024)

James M Dorsey

This week’s Gazanshort-lived celebration of a ceasefirethat was not to be, highlights what is at stake in the seven-month-old war and Israel’s refusal to end the carnage. Thousands poured into Gazan streets within minutes ofHamas advising it had accepted a Qatar and Egyptian ceasefire proposal.

“We have shown the world that we survived this war as Palestinians. We stood our ground on our land. We survived 212 days of attacks and devastation by the world’s most advanced weapons. We did not leave. We survived on our own with no help from outside,” said Ahmad, a young Gazan, one of the thousands celebrating in the streets of Rafah Hamas’ acceptance of a ceasefire with Israel.


The celebrations were short-lived. They dissipated 90 minutes later as Israel made clear its rejection of the proposal.

“The Hamas proposal is far from meeting Israel’s core demands,” Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office said in astatement.

Not to be painted as the party pooper, the statement added that Israel would “dispatch a ranking delegation to Egypt in an effort to maximize the possibility of reaching an agreement on terms acceptable to Israel.”

Netanyahu is going through the motions as he lays the groundwork for what could be a final major offensive in the southern Gazan enclave of Rafah against Hamas thatcould determine his chances of political survival. Rafah is Netanyahu’s desperate attempt at achieving war goals he has failed to realise in seven months of unrelenting military operations at an unspeakable cost to innocent Palestinians.

These goals include the destruction of Hamas, symbolised by the elimination of its military force; the killing or capture of its top leadership; the release of the remaining Hamas-held hostages kidnapped by the group during its October 7 attack on Israel; and ensuring that Gaza will be longer serve as a launching pad for Palestinian resistance.


Hamas continues to playwhack-a-molewith Israel despite having suffered severe losses. The group’s Gaza-based leadership remains intact and in control, and roughly half of the 250 people initially kidnapped by Hamas were freed as a result ofa one-week ceasefire in November, not because of Israeli military action.

Moreover, Israel believes that Hamas’ leadership, including Yahya Sinwar, Israel’s most wanted man, is hiding in tunnels under Rafah shielded by the remaining hostages.

See also Palestine security forces caught between a rock and a hard place

Even so, . Netanyahu is living politically on borrowed time, irrespective of whether he succeeds in Gaza or not. Israeli opinion polls suggest that Netanyahu and his ultra-nationalist, ultra-conservative coalition partners wouldlose the next election.

Hundreds ofangry protestersin Tel Aviv and Jerusalem denounced the government’s rejection of the ceasefire proposal. They called on Netanyahu to prioritise the release of Hamas-held hostages by accepting the deal.

Instead, Israeli forces on Tuesday tookcontrol of the Rafah side of the Gaza-Egyptian borderand closed the border crossing crucial to the flow of desperately needed humanitarian supplies in the Strip as Israeli tanks pushed into the city of Rafah itself.

. Netanyahu’s rejection of the deal while going through the motions of negotiations and his impending Rafah offensive, at best, buys him time.

Even so, by accepting a ceasefire, Hamas threw a curveball at Netanyahu as well as the Biden administration.

The acceptance put the shoe on . Netanyahu’s foot and the administration on the spot. The Biden administration has repeatedly publicly opposed a massive military operation in Rafah, home to more than a million Palestinians displaced by the war.

The irony is that Hamas offered Netanyahu and the administration a way out byleaking details of the ceasefire and prisoner exchange proposalit had accepted that made clear that it was not a deal Israel would accept. At the same time, it allowed Hamas to project itself as engaging constructively in negotiations.

The leaks suggested, against all evidence from Jerusalem, that Israel would agree to a permanent rather than a temporary ceasefire, an end to the war, and a complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. They also inferred that US President Joe Biden had accepted Hamas’ demand that the United States would guarantee implementation of the deal.

“The essential aim of the deal is a permanent ceasefire and full withdrawal” of Israeli forces from Gaza, senior Hamas negotiator Khali al Hayaa told Al Jazeera. “We did what we are supposed to do. The onus is on the mediators and the international community,” Al-Hayya added.

Hamas’ acceptance of a ceasefire proposal it knew Israel would reject raises the tantalising question of whether Netanyahu may not be the only one allegedly wanting to prolong the war for personal political gain. The same could be true for his nemesis, Sinwar, even if one can also wonder why he would agree to a deal that gives license to Israel’s effort to destroy Hamas by agreeing to a post-ceasefire continuation of the war.

See also Israel puts Gaza ceasefire ball in Hamas court

Nevertheless, the short-lived Gazan celebrations and the fact that a ceasefire means to Gazans more than just an end to the death, destitution, and destruction in the Strip suggests that it could create a reckoning not only for Netanyahu but also for Sinwar.

Gazans want to extract a price for the suffering inflicted upon them. The devastation of their lives has not dampened Palestinian national aspirations, even if they are desperate for immediate relief. Even so, . Sinwar and Hamas are feeling the heat of growing criticism of the group for provoking the Israeli assault that has devastated Gaza and reduced its 2.3 million inhabitants to destitution.

In late March, Hamas felt compelled toissue a lengthy statementapologising to Gazans for their suffering, despite52 per cent of Gazans favouring a return to post-war Hamas ruleas opposed to the West Bank-based, internationally recognised Palestine Authority, an Arab peacekeeping force, the United Nations, or Israel. It’s a choice between what Palestinians perceive as bad alternatives. It also opts, against all odds, for the party most vigorous in defending Palestinian rights and aspirations.

Prominent Israeli columnist Anschel Pfeffer argued that “it is looking increasingly unlikely that Hamas’ chief in Gaza and the man who calls the shots on any deal, Yahya Sinwar, is prepared to agree to any compromise that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can accept. Both men are determined to emerge with a perception of victory in their grasp – butthere doesn’t appear to be any framework in which the two can have that.”

Even so, Pfeffer noted, “Israelis and Gazans aren’t stupid. Most of them have conceded that they have lost too much for there to be any notion of ‘victory’ in this war. But as long as their fates are controlled by two men who insist on being the victor at any cost, this war is going to continue.”

Also published on Medium.


Netanyahu buys time by rejecting Gaza ceasefire (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Carlyn Walter

Last Updated:

Views: 5285

Rating: 5 / 5 (70 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Carlyn Walter

Birthday: 1996-01-03

Address: Suite 452 40815 Denyse Extensions, Sengermouth, OR 42374

Phone: +8501809515404

Job: Manufacturing Technician

Hobby: Table tennis, Archery, Vacation, Metal detecting, Yo-yoing, Crocheting, Creative writing

Introduction: My name is Carlyn Walter, I am a lively, glamorous, healthy, clean, powerful, calm, combative person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.