Cease-fire is not enough

Israeli soldiers prepare armoured personnel carriers (APCs) at a staging area outside the northern Gaza Strip July 27, 2014. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip has generated around-the-clock media coverage of the death and destruction being meted out to Palestinians, as well as attempts to broker a cease-fire.

Politicians are adept at talking up the term “cease-fire” itself, sometimes adding the qualifier “humanitarian” – or being creative, by coming up with new phrases, like “humanitarian pause.”

Such breaks in the fighting allow Palestinians to recover and bury their dead, and perhaps secure a few necessities for when the military operations resume, while the warring sides naturally use the “cease-fire” to prepare for the inevitable resumption of hostilities.

A number of countries have been promoting their own efforts to enact a cease-fire, seemingly content that such a development represents a step in the right direction.

The problem is that the notion of cease-fire, as it applies to Gaza, remains highly selective. Many Palestinians are desperate to escape the horror in Gaza, but they are prevented from doing so by the firm blockade on the territory. If a cease-fire is to be built on, it must address their core grievances – lifting the blockade – because otherwise, such “pauses” represent only a chance to prepare for more atrocities at the hands of the Israeli military.

Many of the outside players are showing little interest in stepping in forcefully to end the carnage, or even stop it temporarily, unless it helps achieve their top priority – safeguarding the interests of Israel – which is why none of the considerable talk about achieving cease-fires gives any hope to the Palestinians.

For now, the experience of cease-fires with Israel has meant one thing: a pause, during which even more victims of the war are discovered, and death tolls are adjusted.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 28, 2014, on page 7.




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