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I kinda expected this, but it's still infuriating (Hebrew, translation and emphasis mine).

...the announcement of a ceasefire scheduled to begin last night at midnight was postponed at the last moment. Senior Egyptian and Hamas figures noted that the postponement was at Israel's request, and that negotiations will resume in the morning.

A senior Israeli official noted that the proposal drafted by Egyptian intelligence was not good for Israel.... especially... opening border passages, relieving the siege, and removing the 500m buffer zone on the Gaza side of the border, into which the IDF does not allow Gazans to enter.

"These are not Mubarak and Omar Suleiman anymore, who despised Hamas", said the Israeli official....

Earth to Israeli Government: yes, this is one teeny little detail that you might have not noticed when you planned your glorious operation. I think there are a few more.

What we are faced with now is a dead-ender Israeli government, who like a losing gambler wants to continue gambling in the hope that it somehow wins a jackpot.

It would have been funny, if some 4 millions on both sides of the fence would not have had their life ground to a halt by Bibarak's little military adventure. If at least 20 Palestinians were not killed every day this continues, and five Israelis so far (including, how terribly bitterly ironic, a Bedouin worker killed yesterday while building tents for reserve soldiers waiting to go into Gaza, and whose home is in Al-Arakib, a Bedouin village destroyed dozens of times by Israeli authorities).

---------------------------

Pity poor Bibarak. They are now at risk of violating the Holiest of Holies of Israeli macho mentality: no matter what, Don't be a Freier. The term (doubtlessly Yiddish in origin) roughly translates as "sucker", but it is far far stronger. Israeli men would go to any length including killing and dying - to avoid emerging from a situation having the lower hand.

I know. I am afflicted with this too, to a certain extent. And it has cost me repeatedly in my life.

And right now, some 4 million people in and around Gaza, including 50,000+ mobilized and equipped Israeli reserve soldiers, are waiting to see whether the handful of men running Israel will yield to universal (although still-gentle) international pressure, and to reality - or to their own mortal fear of coming out of this as the country's biggest freiers.

Honestly, I have no idea what happens next. This is a major force of nature we're dealing with here.

A semi-meta postscript, with some fresh excerpts from today's Hebrew-language press, below the twiggle.

As I said a couple of days ago, Adalah diarists continue to bring regular updates and analysis about this Israeli-initiated operation. And even though the site community as a whole has been quite receptive and supportive and there has been some good discussion, we have also taken some heat and ad-hominems from certain members who don't like what they read here.

I understand. People are being hurt over there, people run for their lives. On Friday my mother-in-law heard one rocket whistle over her home en route to Kiryat Gat. Yesterday, on the way from another Ashkelon doctor's appointment (this time for herself), there was an alarm so they had to do the routine - stop the car, run outside and lie flat on your face with your hands covering the back of your neck. My mom-in-law is 74. So I understand how tensions are high for anyone feeling a personal connection to the residents of Israel and Gaza.

But first, don't commit the fallacy of confounding criticism of governments and generals, with (imagined) enmity towards the people themselves.

And second: welcome to the real Israel. Maybe - maybe - the Bibarak operation will have succeeded in doing the impossible, and bringing it back to life.

Only now as I'm writing these words the pieces come together. It has been an ongoing frustration and lamentation for me, in this site and elsewhere. See, in Internet Forever, it has always been like this: all the Israelis on message, completely behind their government and its latest adventure. And all "pro-Israelis" abroad (mostly Diaspora Jews, but also others) feeling emotionally obliged to surround them with a verbal shield.

There is practically no Internet memory of other times, but before fall 2000, it wasn't like that at all.

And now, the real Israel might be making a comeback. At long last. 12 long years overdue. Is it for real? Even just the faint hope is thrilling.

So, while here myself and other Adalah diarists have been verbally pelted by a very small, very vocal and very offended minority about our supposed anti-Israel bias and lunatic conspiracy-theories, the following anti-Israel, super-CT words have gone completely under their sensitive radars (Hebrew, translation mine).

I was in this movie 4 years ago. Same Gaza, same Security Minister Barak, same pre-election timing.... this is not the solution. We have tried this way before...

Our only achievement so far has been to pull Tel Aviv into the "surrounding Gaza" fire circle. Now, lower your weapons.

...In Israel, every time the government shits the people, it gets more support. During the [2005 Gaza] disengagement, they could have given Abu Mazen a gift instead of leaving unilaterally. But they wanted to show there is no partner, so there we are. No we have not just Hamas, but also [Islamic] Jihad.... the solution is that they will have something to lose. Today, a Hamasnik doesn't mind dying. Hamas leadership will be ecstatic if there's a catastrophe. They've got nothing to lose there.

...The movie "Wag the Dog" is nothing compared with what's going on here. This is a production. Why this timing?

...it is the State's right - not right, duty, to protect its citizens. But we must alert that this is not a solution, it is a production.

[reporter asks: Is the operation an election conspiracy?]

Let's say that if you want to reduce telltale signs, at least change something from the previous operation. I'm saying it gently. It raises an eyebrow, the claim that this liquidation was so urgently needed. Ok, Jabari is fair game, but what does it matter? You took down the Hamas chief of staff. What's next? Assassinate [Hamas PM] Haniyeh? What will it give you?

Who is this cretin, slandering The Only Democracy in the Middle East (TM) and its glorious, just War on Terror (TM)?

Knesset member Ilan Gilon, veteran parliamentarian from Israel's Progressive Zionist party, Meretz.

Oh, and he also lives in Ashdod, one of the rockets' favorite target cities. As he says, he and his wife sleep now in the living room with their shoes on - because you never know when the next alarm will happen.

Seen enough? You ain't seen nothing yet. Haaretz is publishing a preview of an interview to air tonight on prime time TV with Labor Party politician and ex-Security Minister, Binyamin Fuad Ben-Eliezer.

Fuad is perhaps the epitome of Israeli centrism, and - like Gilon - he is an active politician rather than a retired one (again, translation and emphases mine). Fuad was asked about Ahmed Jabari.

I know him, I know him... He [was] a man, he's a man.... If you ask for my opinion, his word was a a word [of honor]. He says "I will give you", he will give you. You probably heard me say many times, release [Marwan] Barghouti. Why?

...Because deals, you only make with murderers. Learn this lesson. Only with murderers.  Hafez el Assad was a murderer. Sadat was a murderer. Rabin was a murderer. Arik [Sharon] was a murderer. [King] Hussein was a murderer. Right or wrong?

Fuad is already somewhat walking back these last few words, but the cat is out of the bag. All the charade of "how can you talk with Hamas?" and "How can we let Gazans loose?" is exposed.

Maybe that 12-year-long Groundhog Day in which Israel-Palestine has been trapped, this mental-verbal bubble in which the Israeli and Diaspora-Jewish discourse has been trapped, and which has been Heaven on Earth for scam-artists like Bibi Netanyahu and sociopaths like Ehud Barak - maybe it is finally ending?

Here, btw, is today's editorial comic from Haaretz.

Meanwhile, if you happen to be offended by anything here, it is not us who offend you. It is reality. Please accept my apologies on its behalf.

Oh oh oh, and a last PS, in bold bold bold.

IF

any politician, anywhere and anytime, tells you that his citizens' safety depends on you letting him imprison some other civilian population, with no strings attached and no end in sight,

THEN

This politician is a scam artist, a racist and a criminal, and certainly not a democrat (with small 'd').

MOREOVER

Such an imprisonment is NEVER a "solution" for anything, and don't dare call it that and think of yourself as a liberal or progressive.

Acceptable, livable security can ALWAYS be arranged by other means.

I am not going to bother myself explaining that point anymore.

Peace. May a real, lasting ceasefire set in before this diary appears.

6:30 AM Update: -------------------------------------------

This diary was written last night, a few hours before the bus bombing in Tel Aviv that now dominates the news. So the total opposite of my wish above has happened. The number of dead and wounded is unclear; Israeli media has a very indirect way of reporting such information. But it is quite likely there are several dead.

Whoever carried out this bus attack today is a disgusting murderer. Not only of those directly hurt by it, but of possibly hundreds and thousands who now might be hurt if and when a ground invasion - which seemed nearly impossible only a few hours ago - indeed takes place rather than a cease-fire.

It seems that the last-moment "miracle" that the dangerous gamblers running Israel's government were hoping for, might have just happened. Their operation was on the ropes, but a bombing at the heart of Tel Aviv might re-cement support around it and its expansion, or at least suspend legitimate criticism long enough for the ground invasion to commence. The fact that Bibi started his election campaign on the slogan of "I restored the quiet", will be forgiven to him in the heat of the moment. Already, less than 2 hours after the attack the Israeli air force bombed the Gaza city stadium. Many dead and wounded are reported there as well.

As Israeli MK Gilon said above, despite the death toll always likely to be higher on the Gaza side, in the big scheme of things they've got nothing to lose right now. All too often their lives in a permanent open-air prison might seem hardly worth living for too many of them.

The question is, will common sense somehow manage to fulfill its comeback attempt successfully on the Israeli side at the last moment - despite the bus bombing? These hours, I am very fearful that not.

------------ 10:15AM PST, 20:15 GMT+2: CEASEFIRE IN 45 MINUTES -------------

So mercifully, the bus-bombing was not enough to change the dynamics too drastically. It probably weakened Hamas' hand somewhat (that's the way it works over there).

Thank Heavens. And - yes - thank Obama and Secretary Clinton.

I have refrained from joining others who vocally complained about the ridiculous one-sided Bibi-supportive rhetoric coming out of the Administration. Obama's somewhat more nuanced version, and the additions he made, clarified that he is on the case and is working to quiet things down in his own, no-drama MO.

Make no mistake: with a Republican President, this would have lasted weeks and weeks. Actually there's no reason for speculate: this is precisely what happened to the 2006 and 2008-9 wars launched during Bush's time.

This is why I had 'Obama' as a tag to the diary from the start. His involvement is so far one of the most under-reported aspects of this conflict.

Now, we should only hope - and openly request - that he really "ride herd", until the siege is lifted with the appropriate security arrangements, and the area is returned to normalcy that it hasn't seen in many many years. I don't mind at all, if he continues doing it "Obama style".

More live updates on the cease-fire, on HoundDog's diary.

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