Why a ceasefire won't save Gaza

Even when the rockets stop falling, there will be no justice for Palestinians

Yara Hawari@YaraHawari
Tuesday 26 August 2014 15:59
A Palestinian man looks at a house destroyed by Israeli Defense Forces during an overnight air strike in Gaza City
A Palestinian man looks at a house destroyed by Israeli Defense Forces during an overnight air strike in Gaza City

In the last few hours there have been talks of another ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel. But for anyone concerned with the fate of Gazans, and who understands the situation on the ground, it's already clear that the ceasefire won’t save the Palestinians living there.

The first ceasefire was called on Tuesday, brokered by the Egyptians, accepted by Israel and rejected by Hamas. A not-so-unusual pattern of events when it comes to Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements, and one that greatly plays into Israel’s hands.

In this situation, calling for a ceasefire is like asking a jailer who is torturing its prisoner to halt the torture. Meanwhile if the prisoner resists or tries to escape the jailer is permitted to continue the torture without hindrance from outsiders "concerned" with the prisoners human rights.

In other words, a ceasefire means that with a single rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, Israel can carry on its bombardment without international condemnation. Because, according to typical Israeli discourse, once again the Palestinians rejected a peace deal.

In the past eight days, over 230 Palestinians (including many children) have been killed in Gaza as a result of the Israeli bombardment. Homes and infrastructure have been destroyed and there is now a deep and devastating humanitarian crisis.

On Wednesday we saw the horrific images of four boys between the ages of 9-11 murdered by Israeli precision shelling as they played football. Earlier in the week the Commissioner General of UNRWA expressed his great concern over the number of women and children killed in the bombings and in particular the number of people with disabilities among the victims.

He also rather poignantly pointed out, “Never will even the most impressive television footage properly capture the depth of fear and despair felt in the homes and hearts of Gazans who are yet again facing death, devastation and displacement.”

The pretext to this brutal barrage of Israeli airstrikes against the Palestinians of Gaza was the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenage settlers by supposed Hamas members.

But the context is much more important. The context is an occupation that has turned the coastal strip into a densely populated ghetto of despair and desperation. Should Hamas and the people of Gaza enter into a ceasefire agreement, what terms are they to expect?

They only have to gaze across to their brothers and sisters in the West Bank, where no rockets have ever been fired into Israel. And yet it still remains under a brutal Israeli occupation with the complicity of the Palestinian Authority.

A ceasefire merely detracts from the context of the occupation; an occupation that is intent on the destruction of Gaza, Hamas and on a whole, Palestinian society.

Ceasefire or no ceasefire, this genocidal policy will remain unchanged. And indeed a "breaking of a ceasefire" with rockets from Gaza serves Israel’s interests.

It allows them and their allies to maintain this discourse of defense; that a sovereign nation would not allow rocket attacks on its territory (of course not applying to the democratically elected government of the Gaza Strip), while whipping -up a fear frenzy of the Palestinian "other" among Israeli Jews.

It also allows them to break up the unity between Hamas and Fatah. But most importantly it allows them to continue the strangulation and the genocide of the Palestinian people of Gaza in front of an international audience.