Efforts to agree on a long-term Gaza ceasefire are hung up on Israeli demands for the return of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Hamas is demanding that 1,500 imprisoned Palestinian terrorists be released in exchange for Shalit, including many jailed for killing Israelis. The Israelis believe that letting that many known terrorists loose will result in dozens of dead Israelis, and are trying to convince Hamas to accept a few hundred, less lethal, terrorists in exchange for Shalit (who has been held for two years now). Hamas and Israel are deadlocked on this issue, as well as Hamas demands for free access to the outside world (and no interference with their importation of longer range rockets from Iran.) Israel has fired its peace negotiator (for the Egyptian moderated talks with Hamas) and replaced with him with an intelligence veteran from Shin Bet.
Hamas is convinced that Fatah supporters in Gaza actively collected target information for Israel before the recent 22 day war. Hamas believed this before, and during the war, and has been waging a retaliation and counter-intelligence campaign against actual or suspected Fatah members for more than two months. Over a hundred Palestinians have been killed and hundreds more wounded or tortured. This has made peace talks with Fatah difficult, as Fatah wants the attacks stopped first. Hamas is willing to halt the violence, but wants concessions from Fatah (like acknowledging Hamas as the leader of the Palestinians, something Fatah refuses to consider.) Then there's the argument over Gaza reconstruction.
Nearly a billion dollars has been raised to repair the damage in Gaza from the recent war. But the rebuilding effort has been delayed until Israel, Hamas and Fatah can work out a peace deal. There's also the problem of keeping the money away from Hamas, which is refusing to back down on its demand that Israel be destroyed and Jews driven from the region. The situation is further complicated by the fact that most of the targets were Hamas owned and operated buildings. Hamas and Fatah have been unable to work out a deal whereby Fatah could lead the reconstruction effort, and slip Hamas a portion of the donated reconstruction money. Apparently the two groups are hung up on over how to divide the loot. Situation normal, all jammed up.
Two more rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza.
February 23, 2009: Palestinians fired two mortar shells at Israeli troops guarding the Gaza border. The mortar team was spotted and fired on. Israeli troops also spotted two Palestinians trying to place a roadside bomb near the border fence, and interrupted that. A Palestinian terrorist web site later reported that the Israelis had interrupted preparations for another attempt to capture Israeli soldiers (to be traded for hundreds of imprisoned Hamas men.)
February 22, 2009: A bomb went off outside a prominent mosque in Cairo, Egypt. One foreign tourist was killed, and 21 others (mostly foreigners) were wounded. Another bomb was found and defused. Islamic terrorists, protesting the 22 day war between Hamas and Israel, are suspected, and three people were arrested.
February 21, 2009: A long range rocket was fired from Gaza into the outskirts of Ashkelon. Meanwhile, Israeli artillery fired several 155mm shells into Lebanon, in retaliation for the firing of two rockets into Israel by persons unnamed and unknown.