It is hard to do business with those people.
This morning I woke to the radio telling me that Israel and the Palestine National Authority had agreed to a cease fire with respect to Gaza as of 6 AM. There would be no rockets fired toward Sderot and other communities, and Israel would not attack targets there. Later reports were that the Palestinians would stop digging tunnels from Egypt to Gaza and stop smuggling arms across that border, and that Israel had already pulled its troops, tanks, and other weapons out of Gaza.
By 8 o'clock we heard about the first rocket fired toward Sderot. At least five more came during the morning and early afternoon.
Various Palestinian organizations said that they had not agreed to the cease fire; that the Israelis did not understand it properly; that it also required a cessation of Israeli activities in the West Bank. The chairman/president of the Palestine National Authority, Ahmed Abbas, said that all factions had accepted the cease fire; that continued firings were a violation; and that he would order Palestinian security forces to fan out across the northern region of Gaza to stop the firing of rockets.
This was not the first time he has ordered security forces to stop such firings in the 15 months since Israel removed its settlements and troops from Gaza. On occasion he has said that he tried, but could not stop the firing. At other times he has done no more than to proclaim that the rocket firing must stop; that it is endangering the future of Palestine.
Meanwhile, the Israeli prime minister, and even right-wing minister Evette (Avigdor) Lieberman has said that the IDF would give the Palestinians a couple of days to get themselves organized, before responding to further rocket attacks.
There is a bit of hope, but not too much. We have been this route before. Palestinian officials have lacked the will to impose what power they have on factions that use the sword or its modern equivalents to free all of Palestine for the sake of Muslim rule. Last weekend their weapon of choice was a 68 year old grandmother who blew herself up while approaching an Israeli position. In a pre-suicide video, she claimed to be avenging a family member. Three soldiers were lightly wounded by bits that flew from the explosive belt. There was a funeral a day later for the pieces of grandma that had been collected.
Perhaps the 400 or so deaths that the IDF has caused since August (fighters and collateral damage), plus considerable property destruction, has convinced the Palestinians that they are not winning this war. Four hundred dead is small change for the American experience in Iraq, where 100-death days are not uncommon. But for Israel and Palestine, it is a lot. The total number of deaths on both sides since September, 2000 is probably not more than 5,000, equivalent to a particularly bloody month in Baghdad and its surroundings.
Should we esteem a religious movement that can send a grandmother to her death for the sake of Allah? Or should we do what we can to assure that she gets to Paradise before we do, while giving yet another chance to a cease fire that may lead to something better for all of us?