With the help of Egyptian interlocutors, Israel and Hamas have managed to clinch a new ceasefire in the over 50 days of fighting in the Gaza Strip that began in early July. The difference between the latest cessation of hostilities and previous short-lived ceasefires is that it responds to Hamas’ demand that Israel lift the land and sea blockade of Gaza to allow in humanitarian aid. Palestinians celebrated the latest truce on long deserted streets, naturally because they have suffered more fatalities – over 2,000 dead, 500 of them children – in this latest Gaza conflict. But will it hold out?
After nearly five years of uneasy calm, Israel’s defence forces are drenching Gaza, the stronghold of the militant Hamas in the blood of Palestinians. Hamas’ rocket launches into Israel are no match for the ferocity of the advancing Israeli army. Five years after ‘Operation vast lead’ in which Israel devastated Gaza in retaliation for Hamas’ ineffectual rocket fire, the two sides are back at full scale war. This time, the price seems much higher and, as usual, in huge disproportion against the Palestinians.
The main trigger of the current mayhem was the discovery of the bodies of three Israeli teenagers, ostensibly abducted while biking home and murdered.In a tit for tat, in July, a Palestinian teenager, 16-year-old Abu Khadier was kidnapped and burnt to death by Jewish extremists. Palestinians rose up in against Israel and the latter rained bombs on Gaza, the coastal Palestinian city under the rule of Hamas. In desperation, Hamas’ military wing returned to the battlefield, several rockets inside Israel. The latter hit back with earth-scorching air and ground attacks that have so far killed over 200 Palestinians. Out of the rising number of Palestinian dead, over 40 are children and more than a hundred are civilians.
We deplore this latest round of Israeli military operations and call on Hamas to stop launching rockets into Israel, which provides the ground for massive and disproportionate reprisals from the Israeli authorities. One key element of the occasional violent flare ups in the conflict is that an atmosphere of uneasy calm is both deceptive and unsustainable.It only prepares the ground for the next big violent eruptions. The only guarantee for enduring peace for the two peoples is a negotiated settlement that must lead to the emergence of two-states that are both viable and mutually-respectful of each other. We blame the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu for lack of progress in peace talks. His government continues to build settlements on occupied Palestinian territories and this reasonable and viable outcome of any negotiation impossible.
We demand that the Israeli government immediately halt its military operations inside Gaza or any other Palestinian territory and return to negotiation in good faith. This it will demonstrate by stopping the building of new settlements inside the occupied Palestinian territories.