After the Israel government security cabinet’s statement on Saturday night in which the Israeli government announced a unilateral cease-fire in Gaza, Hamas fired a barrage of five Grad rockets at the Beersheba region and two rockets at Ashdod.

On Saturday, Hamas fired, in all, approximately 40 rockets and mortar shells at Jewish communities throughout the Negev.

High-ranking Hamas operatives said yesterday that their organization is not obligated to adhere to Israel’s cease-fire decision, and it will continue fighting in the Gaza Strip as long as Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops are stationed there.

The leader of the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad terror organization, Ramadan Abdullah Shalah, in an interview with the al-Jazeera TV network, said “resistance will continue.”

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Yesterday, world leaders participated in a conference initiated by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak regarding the cease-fire in Gaza.

Among the participants included President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, President Abdullah Gul of Turkey, Prime Minister Ernesto Zapatero of Spain, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

After the conference in Egypt, several European leaders, including Mr. Sarkozy, Ms. Merkel and Mr. Berlusconi, came to Israel to have dinner with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Reservists Aren’t Going To Be Discharged Yet

The Israeli Defense Forces, the IDF, will keep reservist troops in uniform and on the ground.

The IDF has decided to redeploy the troops inside Gaza in keeping with situation assessments that will be made by the Southern IDF Command.

New rules of engagement have been drafted in keeping with the security cabinet’s decision not to shoot for offensive purposes but, rather, only at anyone who either endangers the troops or shoots rockets at Israel.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the army to be prepared for a possible escalation and expansion of its military activity, if need be. Mr. Barak warned should rocket-fire continue, the IDF would not hesitate to expand the operation.

Hamas Rocket Attacks Resume

Yesterday, only a few hours after the unilateral cease-fire announced by Israel went into effect, Hamas fired a barrage of Qassam rockets and mortar shells at Jewish communities in the Negev.

Armed Palestinians opened fire at IDF troops and armored troops, who returned fire with tank and machine-gun fire. In the wake of the security-cabinet’s decision last night, the IDF troops were ordered to open fire only if they were being fired upon or if Israel was being fired upon.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Israel’s announcement of a unilateral cease-fire indicates its failure to accomplish its goals. He said that the cease-fire would not end the conflict. He contends only the opening of the crossing points can restore quiet to the region.

To Stop The Operation Is A Mistake

Last night, members of Israel’s opposition parties were were highly critical of the security cabinet decision to declare a unilateral cease-fire.

The Likud faction issued a statement that read:

“It is a mistake to stop the operation. It should have continued until the achievement of the objectives, including effectively sealing the arms smuggling route into Gaza.”

Likud Knesset faction chairman Gidon Saar said, “We are facing a second version of the ‘tahdia’ (an Arabic term for an agreement for a temporary halt in hostilities) in this state of affairs Israel is going to find itself within a short time in another round against Hamas.”

Another opposition leader, Yisrael Beiteinu party chairman Avigdor Lieberman voiced his vehement opposition to a unilateral cease-fire and said, “Past experience has proven that cease-fires turn into fire traps.

“The people gives its support, the residents of the south are standing firmly, and only the government is interfering with the IDF finishing the job.”

Israel, U.S. Agree To Counter Gaza Smuggling

Together with the announcement of the cease-fire, Israel and the United States announced a “memo of understanding” in which both nations greed to cooperate to block the flow of weapons to Gaza.

Egypt, however, the source of weapons smuggling, said it would not be bound by the agreement.

The new American/Israeli memorandum of understanding (MoU) would establish a mechanism for an intelligence exchange on the arms flow.

“The United States will work with regional and NATO partners to address

the problem of the supply of arms and related materiel and weapons

transfers and shipments to Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza, including through the Mediterranean, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea and eastern Africa, through improvements in existing arrangements or the launching of new initiatives to increase the effectiveness of those arrangements as they relate to the prevention of weapons smuggling to Gaza,” the MoU said.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abu Al Gheit dismissed the U.S.-Israel

agreement. On Jan. 17, Mr. al-Gheit said the counter-smuggling MoU would not bind Cairo and could prove ineffective.

“They can do what they wish with regard to the sea or any other country

in Africa,” Mr. al-Gheit said. “But when it comes to Egyptian land, we are not bound by anything except the safety and national security of the Egyptian people and Egypt’s ability to protect its borders.”

The MoU cited Iran as the prime source of weapons and explosives to the Hamas regime and Palestinian militia allies in the Gaza Strip. The accord said the United States would use the existing international coalition against Iran to help stop Tehran’s weapons shipments to Hamas.

However, Iran Shipping Lines continues to offer weekly container service from Bandar Abbas, Iran to Damietta, Egypt.

Security sources believe these containers contain weapons and are loaded in Iran on every Friday and arrive in Egypt two weeks later, and often wind up in Gaza.

The schedule for arms delivery from Iran to Egypt is listed as folllows:

However, Egyptian officials insist that absolutely no arms have ever been smuggled from Egypt to Gaza.

Since Egypt remains the only nation that is contiguous to Gaza, Egypt bears the responsibility for the massive import of the massive arms import to Gaza.

David Bedein can be reached at


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David Bedein
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.