As Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip enters its second day, reports have emerged that it launched the attack in the knowledge that a 'permanent truce' was in the works.
Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reports:
'Hours before Hamas strongman Ahmed Jabari was assassinated, he received the draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel, which included mechanisms for maintaining the ceasefire in the case of a flare-up between Israel and the factions in the Gaza Strip. This, according to Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, who helped mediate between Israel and Hamas in the deal to release Gilad Shalit and has since then maintained a relationship with Hamas leaders...I have already documented that Israel's attack violated a de facto truce that had succeeded in reducing rockets to virtually zero. As the International Crisis Group's Nathan Thrall put it, Israel's attack
Baskin told Haaretz on Thursday that senior officials in Israel knew about his contacts with Hamas and Egyptian intelligence aimed at formulating the permanent truce, but nevertheless approved the assassination.
"He was in line to die, not an angel and not a righteous man of peace," Baskin said of Jabari and of his feelings in the wake of the killing, “but his assassination also killed the possibility of achieving a truce.' [my emph.]
'started after people were already talking about a ceasefire. The front page of Ha'aretz this morning was talking about a ceasefire and there was a lull at four in the afternoon when Jabari’s car was hit.'It now appears that it also knowingly pre-empted a long-term ceasefire.
This covers the immediate run-up to Israel's attack; for a broader background, see this timeline.
Elsewhere, Israeli academic and peace activist Gershon Baskin described Israel's assassination of Jabari, the leader of Hamas's military wing assassinated yesterday by Israel, as 'total insanity':
'Jaabri was behind enforcing all of the recent ceasefire agreements. He sent his troops out to stop the rockets and was prepared to reach a long term ceasefire. Jaabri was also the main interlocutor of the Egyptian intelligence service in reaching ceasefire understandings. Now who are they supposed to talk to? Who can expect the Egyptians to continue to mitigate our relationship with Gaza? Now the government and people of Israel will face a massive barrage of rockets and they bought the entrance card to Cast Lead II.' [my emph.]This account is supported by veteran Israeli correspondent Aluf Benn, who describes Jabari as Israel's 'subcontractor' in Gaza.