Whatever happened to the ceasefire that was supposed to be in place between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza strip? Is it a surprise that Hamas, little more than two weeks after Israel withdrew from Gaza, began to launch rockets and mortars into Israel again? Yesterday a rocket from Gaza struck the Isreali city of Ashkelon causing only property damage fortunately. Hamas went back to their old ways back on January 27 when they detonated a bomb near an Israeli border patrol that killed an Israeli soldier. On Sunday Palestinians fired at least four rockets and a “shower of mortar shells” into Israel. (Kershner, Isabel, “Rocket from Gaza Strikes Israeli City“, The New York Times, February 3, 2009). Israel responded with air raids against terrorists in return.

All this is going on while the Egyptians are trying to negotiate a more lasting truce between Hamas and Israel. Hamas wants all of the crossings opened and the lifting of the economic embargo and Israel wants an end to the smuggling tunnels. Egypt has announced that the U.S. Army Engineers had arrived to set up ground-penetrating radar to detect smuggling tunnels (Kershner, Isabel, “Rocket from Gaza Strikes Israeli City“, The New York Times, February 3, 2009). One has to wonder why they are even there when the tunnels are not really a secret as Sarah Topol of The New Republic notes in her February 2nd 2009 story “Tunnel Vision:

Finding the tunnels proved much easier than I had expected. Together with two other journalists, I hired Mahmoud, who moonlights as translator while co-owning a profitable, albeit somewhat vague, telecommunications company in the Palestinian town of Rafah. His best friend drove us the 15 minutes from Rafah to just outside the Philadelphi corridor, the heavily guarded strip of no-man’s land that separates the two countries. Approximately 70 yards from the border, we hit dozens of tattered white tents, organized row upon row, tens of feet apart. Each tent houses the mouth of a tunnel that snakes beneath the border to Egypt.

…Around us, the flurry of activity is anything but surreptitious. Trucks, heavily laden with unmarked, small white parcels, loiter outside the tents ready to transport goods around the Strip. Tractors push and pull mounds of sand disgorged by bombings, looking to recover lost goods. Some tents have been damaged by the war, but many remain unscathed.

“What are the tents for?” I ask Mahmoud.

“They are to protect from sun and rain,” he answers.

“It’s not to keep the tunnels secret?”

“The tunnels are not a secret!” he exclaims over the din of generators and the frantic scraping of shovels.

(Topol, Sarah, “Tunnel Vision, The New Republic, February 2, 2009)

Thanks to Yisrael Medad for the New Republic article link.