A week after Operation Pillar of Defense ended, an arrangement between Israel and Hamas is beginning to taking shape.
With the Egyptians acting as intermediaries, the setup has seen all terror factions in Gaza, without exception, committing themselves to the cease-fire, from the ruling Hamas regime to Islamic Jihad (which is as well-armed as Hamas), down to the smaller Popular Resistance Committees and the al- Qaida-inspired jihadi groups.
Under the new terms, the IDF will patrol its side of the border with Gaza, and carry out vital border security missions free from all attacks.
Terror factions will not activate bomb-filled tunnels, set off explosives on the border or fire guided missiles and mortars at IDF forces. This ensures that the IDF can secure the hazardous frontier free from hostile fire. It is as important a condition for the cease-fire as the cessation of terrorist rocket fire on the South.
The IDF, for its part, has stiffened its rules of engagement.
It will not freely order an air strike unless it is absolutely certain that a rocket will be fired at Israel in the immediate future.
Additionally, Gazan farmers will be allowed to work their fields up to a hundred meters from the border. In the past, the IDF forbade Gazans from approaching the 300-meter zone near the border. This easing of conditions only applies to unarmed civilians.
No gunmen, including Hamas police, can approach the fence under any circumstances.
In case of violent disturbances, IDF soldiers will call out warnings, and if rioters continue to try to cross or damage the fence, soldiers will open fire at the rioters’ legs.
IDF officials believe that the arrangement is far from being sealed in cement, but note that it is in Hamas’s self-interest to enforce it. The entire setup is predicated on the cessation of all terrorist activity from the Gaza Strip. However, Hamas will seek to continue to rely on its extensive network of smuggling tunnels to bring in arms and commercial goods.
It will be up to the governments in Jerusalem and Cairo to try and hammer out an effective arrangement on Hamas’s rearmament efforts.