Hamas has declared victory. Islamic Jihad has followed suit. Hamas says it will set the conditions for how and when Israeli forces are to leave Gaza.
All of this victory triumphalism came after three weeks of being pummeled by Israel which had finally after almost eight years decided that it can no longer leave its population to the random havoc caused by missiles and rockets fired from Gaza into cities and towns of the Negev. The pummeling was disastrous for the Gaza Palestinians whose paladins operated from and then hid themselves and their weapons in the homes and schools of those in whose names they were fighting.
It is hard to believe that the Palestinians believe in the brazen rhetoric of their leadership. But fantasy is an admired trait in Arab political life and, therefore, also a habit.
Prime Minister Olmert had declared Israel's unilateral cease-fire a full day earlier, and it went into effect at 7 p.m. EST, Saturday night. Israel's guns were quieted. Hamas' rockets weren't, and the I.D.F. allowed the Palestinians the excuse that leadership had not been able to reach all its soldiers. This is crap, as we shall see.
In any case, the Hamas cease-fire assumes that Israel will open its border with Gaza and remove its troops from the Strip within one week. The Israelis have an aim of withdrawal of soldiers as soon as possible. But it all depends on how Gaza behaves. Hamas has already begun to rebuild its tunnels through which arms and other contraband are channeled. This will not do.
Finally, the Europeans -- the Germans, the French, the Brits, the Italians, the Spanish and the Czechs -- pledged at a meeting with Olmert in Jerusalem to provide troops to police the Philadelphia Corridor between Gaza and the Sinai under which the Palestinians had, since the Israeli 2005 withdrawal, built hundreds of the tunnels mentioned above. Actually, the end of the fighting from the Israeli side demands a real European military force with real obligations and real power. Otherwise, Israel will have to return to its task.
Gone are the Turks from the list of possible enforcers of the truce. Bye, bye, Erdogan. You and your country will not be welcomed in Europe soon. Europe does not need and it does not want a militant Islamist country within its frontiers. Who would? Sorry.
Now, the Pope or the Holy Father or the Vicar of Christ, whichever you prefer, has also spoken out on Gaza. Mostly vapid stuff and utterly irrelevant.
There is a slightly grimmer piece than mine, maybe more realistic, in Monday's Jerusalem Post. It is titled "Europe's plea for peace ignores Gaza reality." Author: a wise skeptic, David Horovitz.