Gaza Update

January 19, 2009

A number of important developments:

— Yesterday the Israelis declared a unilateral cease-fire in the conflict.

— Hours later, Hamas declared a cease-fire to allow Israeli troops to withdraw.

— Israel has said it wants to withdraw from Gaza as quickly as possible, as troops exit the territory.

— Hamas is apparently still very much in control of the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, they plan to rearm.

The extent of the devastation in Gaza is beyond words. 1,300 Palestinians have been killed (and 13 Israelis), and 50,000 are homeless. The territory, from the university to government buildings to police stations to homes, is utterly destroyed.

Saudi King Abdullah has pledged $1 billion to rebuild.

— It is still entirely unclear what gains Israel has made. They’d fared better on the ground than they did against Hizbollah, and made Hamas appear weak. However, Hamas mostly refrained from engaging with Israeli troops, and it is unknown how intact the organization remains.

We’ll see over the coming days whether this is going to be a lasting cease-fire or simply a lull in the fighting.

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