We are now two weeks into the New Year and a lot has happened. The New Year started out like this:

Dozens of residents of Sderot and other Gaza border communities marked the one-year anniversary of Operation Cast Lead on Thursday (New Years Day) by waving Israeli flags and releasing white balloons towards Gaza, stressing their yearning to live in peace. “We are too strong and too right to think about leaving the area and our homes” they exclaimed, reaffirming their commitment to remain and continue building their communities. They explained that unfortunately, while they truly seek to live in peace the enemy has a different agenda.

Hamas’s response… Two Grad-type rockets were fired at the Netivot area. On New Years day, two mortar shells hit open areas in southern Israel on Friday evening. One of the projectiles landed near the Kerem Shalom border crossing at the southeastern end of the Gaza Strip and the other hit an open area in the Sdot Negev region, and has not yet been located. Earlier Friday, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for firing two Grad-type rockets at the Netivot area from Gaza on Thursday night, New Years Eve.

Israel’s Response…The IAF attacked a number of targets in the Gaza Strip overnight Friday. The IAF bombed three sites in southern, central and northern Gaza. Specifically, Israeli forces attacked a number of tunnels around the Gaza Strip which were used for smuggling. Saturday morning, Israeli navy ships lobbed a number of shells at several targets at a refugee camp in the central part of the Strip. No injuries were reported. Media sources in Gaza reported that two people, including a child, were wounded in the strikes by Israel.

IAF jets bombed the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday night, killing one man and wounding three others, Palestinian sources reported. The terrorists were apparently in the midst of preparing to launch a rocket attack against Israel when the bomb struck.
One man was killed and two others were wounded overnight Thursday when the IAF struck several targets in the Gaza Strip, Palestinians said. The strikes came in response to the launching of a Katyusha rocket at Ashkelon on Thursday, as well as the firing of several mortar shells at the border area.

You kind of catch the drift as to how the year has started, but then things began to become a bit more promising when this was reported… “The Iron Dome short-range missile defense system passed a series of tests over the last few days with flying colors, successfully shooting down Kassam rockets, Grad rockets and mortar shells one after the other. It even succeeded in determining which missiles to shoot down – those whose trajectory made them likely to land in a populated area – and which to ignore.”
And then this surprise (or maybe no surprise at all, I’ll explain)… The Chinese news agency reported overnight Monday, that Hamas plans to take measures to halt those launching rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip.

Hamas government spokesman Taher al-Nounu issued a statement saying that the group would take measures “to preserve the highest interests of our people and the national consensus,” and called on Palestinian factions and Gaza groups “to agree on a national accordance that draws up a certain mechanism in dealing with the changes on the ground with Israel.”

Xinhua quoted “well-informed Palestinian sources in Hamas government” as saying that Hamas police forces would soon deploy and carry out field campaigns to prevent firing rockets from Gaza Strip at Israel.

Why the change in policy, when it has always been a fact that Hamas and its manifesto has always had the desire and the goal to wipe Israel off the face of the earth? One can only look at the past track record of Hamas and believe that the smuggling tunnels being destroyed by the IAF in response to rocket attacks in Israel are carrying equipment, tools and weapons that Hamas is not willing to loose.

The underground tunnel smuggling business in totality is a billion dollar business, a business Hamas has been talking about taxing. A single tunnel can cost up to $50,000 to dig, but $180,000 per day worth of goods can travel through it.

As Egypt builds its steel underground wall it hopes to stop new tunnels from being built. They also hope to put a barricade through some of the existing tunnels as well. What you will probably see will be the influx of scrap metal being brought up into Gaza through the tunnels it tried to seal off. Why the change in policy? Time will reveal the true motives behind it.