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After holding indirect talks with Israel in Geneva, Hamas announced a halt to all rocket attacks from Gaza, a typical confidence-building measure.

The halt will last until IDF’s next hostile action. In a typical cycle of violence, some guerrillas come dangerously close to IDF personnel near the fence, IDF responds with fire, and the Gazans shoot a few shells into Israel. IDF then retaliates against empty tunnels in Rafah, and the violence starts all over again.

In war, confidence-building and half-measures do not work.

As we expected, Egyptian anti-smuggling efforts have proved to be a short-lived show. The Egyptians have turned a blind eye to Palestinian smugglers who operate about 500 tunnels near Rafah.

Neither does the Israeli government want to crack down on smuggling, because efficient closure of the border would damage the ceasefire understanding with Hamas. If anything, Hamas profits from border closure because it extracts racketeering fees from smugglers.

By far, the bulk of smuggled goods are household stuff.

November 2009
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