Despite Thursday’s lethal fireworks, both Israeli and Palestinian sources expect that by the middle of next week, a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas brokered by Egypt may go into effect. It won�t be announced as such — Israel is squeamish about officially striking a deal with what it deems a terrorist group — but if it goes ahead, Hamas will strong-arm its own fighters and those belonging to Islamic Jihad into halting the barrage of rockets aimed at the farming communities and towns of southern Israel. In exchange, Israel is expected to refrain from targeted killings of Hamas operatives, and will hold off on mounting any major assault into Gaza. Israel will also commit itself to gradually lifting the blockade on goods reaching Gaza’s besieged inhabitants.
Why would Israel deal?
Because its army generals have told Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that a major offensive into Gaza could last weeks or even months and would very likely cause heavy casualties among Palestinians and Israelis soldiers — but would probably not stop rockets from being fired. And Olmert’s priority is to stop the rockets from Gaza.