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April 11, 2011

Ceasefire In Gaza? Hamas, Israel Lull as Halt Considered

A Hamas terrorist launched an anti-tank missile into an Israeli school bus. Israel launched its armor, air and infantry power into the Gaza Strip. That was Thursday. And that's how these things typically begin. Brutal business as usual.

But a couple of things have transpired since Thursday that are certainly not business as usual, and how much each has to do with the news of a considered ceasefire between the Israelis and Hamas terrorists is a curious bit of conjecture.

First, on Sunday morning, Hamas' deputy foreign minister, Ghazi Hamad, appeared on Israeli state-run radio and Israel deployed its two existing "Iron Dome" defense systems ahead of schedule based on necessity. More densely populated Ashkelon and Beersheba, both near Gaza and within Hamas' range, were designated for Iron Dome defense. And Israel says the systems have intercepted at least 8 rockets bound for the Iron Dome-protected cities. Smaller towns and unpopulated areas remain unprotected. The Reuters report said that 120 rockets had been launched by Hamas total since Thursday, with the vast majority intended for closer, smaller Israeli towns than the two defended by the Iron Domes.

Anyone who claims to know definitively how much the Iron Dome defenses or the Hamas appeal in Hebrew impact the apparent suing for peace is kidding themselves. But because it can't be quantified does not mean it has no impact.

Personally, I'd suggest the Hamas deputy foreign minister appearing on Israeli radio speaking Hebrew in suing for a ceasefire has profound psychological significance for Hamas and Gaza Palestinians and less for Israelis. And I'd also suggest the Iron Dome rocket defenses have profound psychological significance for Israelis - all Israelis, not just those in Ashkelon or Beersheba - and less for Hamas, considering there are currently only two of them.

But either way and to whatever degree, both of these occurrences are most certainly new to this generations-old conflict.

April 10, 2011

Breaking: Qaddafi "Road Map to Peace" In Libya?

News breaks that Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Qaddafi has "accepted a road map to peace," according to Sky News of Great Britain. South African president Jacob Zuma reportedly emerged from meetings with Qaddafi with some manner of agreement.

The African leaders arrived in Tripoli earlier today as part of a delegation seeking to negotiate a truce in the Libyan conflict.

The roadmap calls for an end to hostilities, "diligent conveying of humanitarian aid" and "dialogue between the Libyan parties", the leaders said in a statement.

Sky's chief correspondent Stuart Ramsay, who is in Tripoli reporting under the restrictions of the Libyan authorities, said it could be the crucial first step towards peace.

It could be that "crucial first step towards peace" - and it could also be little to nothing. It all depends what one presumes to be the definition of 'peace.' Too many may likely read into this report a form of capitulation on the part of Qaddafi.

It is highly unlikely at this stage - a relative position of strength for Qaddafi - that a "road map to peace" has any road leading Qaddafi out of Tripoli.

Don't just take my word for it. Listen to the British Defence Secrectary, Liam Fox. "The truth is that the Gaddafi regime is quite well dug in," he said.

Why would Qaddafi, who still has the ability to slug it out with the 'rebels' indefinitely, suddenly capitulate? "Peace" and surrender, you see, are two entirely different things no matter how peace is defined. For Qaddafi, at this point, it's quite plausible that "peace" means something along the lines of "how about you boys quit blowing up my gear?"

Matt Lauer and a few CNN hosts may get excited about such a report, perhaps desiring to read more into it than is there, as the Obama administration requires a settled end to this for a face-saving exit. But you should be more cautious.

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