Israel-Hamas ceasefire: After 11 days, time is right for both sides to claim victory

·2-min read

The rockets, the missiles and the air strikes will stop at 2am local time on Friday.

After 11 days of fighting, both Israel and Hamas have agreed, through intermediaries, to a ceasefire.

The moment is right for both of them to claim a victory.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, will claim a political victory and it is - 12 days ago he was fighting for his political life with opposition politicians tasked with forming a government.

Now, he's back centre stage, casting himself as the only person capable of being defender of the nation. He's held off his own demise for now.

Militarily, the Israelis can claim to have depleted Hamas's ability to strike Israel.

Eleven days of some of the heaviest bombing the strip has ever seen has killed key Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad commanders and, they claim, destroyed 100km of underground tunnels.

What about Hamas? Well, Hamas saw opportunity to insert itself at the centre of the core crisis - the quest for Palestinian statehood.

With the other (West Bank) Palestinian faction Fatah weak, and Palestinian elections cancelled last month, Hamas exploited a moment.

And they successfully seemed to have stirred the Palestinian diaspora to an extent not seen for decades.

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Some Palestinians openly condoned the Hamas rocket strikes; others were more circumspect.

But the focus was firmly on the Palestinian struggle in a way that it hadn't been for many years.

And Hamas's political foe, Fatah, looks weaker than ever.

But what about the unintended consequences?

Well, as always, civilians may not be the targets but they are always overwhelmingly the victims.

As news of the ceasefire came in, the number known to have died in Gaza stood at 232, including 65 children.

In Israel 12 people lost their lives, including two children.

But the consequences go further.

The past 11 days have stirred sectarian tension in towns across Israel.

The sight of Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs in street battles shocked the nation. It exposed the deep divisions across the land.

For both the Israeli government and for Hamas, politics and survival was at the heart of all this.

But that core issue - Palestinian equality and statehood and that quest for a sustainable solution for Israel and the Palestinians - well, that's as illusive as ever.

And until that is solved, the two sides will be back fighting again before long.

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