Ceasefires, Israeli-Style

Waging war while talking peace is customary Israeli practice. On January 19, Haaretz headlined: “Israel declares unilateral cease-fire. The security cabinet last night authorized a unilateral cease-fire (to take effect) at 2AM (Sunday morning), ending three weeks of intense fighting.”

Declaration notwithstanding, nothing changed. Gaza remains occupied, under siege, and totally isolated. Borders are still closed. On January 28, The New York Times said “truckloads of humanitarian aid” are stuck in Egypt because of Israeli and Cairo restrictions. Little can get in, and attacks merely downshifted to a lower gear. 

Shortly after Sunday’s announcement, an Israeli aircraft killed a Gaza City resident. IDF troops opened fire in Wadi al-Salqa village, southeast of Deir al-Balah. Homes in al-Qarara village were attacked. Helicopter gunships struck areas west of Khan Yunis, and F-16s bombed near the Science and Technology College in the same area. Israeli naval vessels shelled coastal areas and turned back ships with humanitarian aid. Agricultural land was raised. Arrests were made. Gaza continues to be terrorized. 

For the week ending January 28th, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) reported continued Gaza and West Bank incursions and attacks:

— the IDF shot and killed a Gaza farmer on his land;

— 17 Gaza and West Bank Palestinians, including four children and two journalists, were wounded;

— 32 West Bank incursions were conducted;

— 64 West Bank civilians, including 15 children, were arrested;

— a private West Bank home near Bethlehem was seized as a military site;

— Gaza remains under siege and total isolation; conditions overall keep deteriorating; 

— two Jerusalem homes were demolished; 53 civilians were left homeless; and Israel continues Judaizing Jerusalem through repeated land seizures.

The same pattern repeats daily, and reports indicate more American and EU complicity. The US Navy patrols the Red Sea to prevent weapons “smuggling,” and Army Corps of Engineers are on the Egyptian – Gaza border to locate tunnels and destroy them. EU nations will monitor Rafah and perhaps other Gaza – Egypt border crossings, and France, Britain and other European countries offered naval vessel patrol help in the Red Sea.

On a January 26 Gaza visit, EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, refused to meet with Hamas. He called it “a terrorist movement” responsible for three weeks of Gaza fighting, the enormous devastation, and for using civilians as “human shields.” In response, Hamas official, Mushir al-Masr, expressed shock “to see a European official giving cover to massacres and terrorism committed by the Zionist enemy against the Palestinian people. Palestinian resistance is as legitimate as the resistance of European countries that fought against foreign occupiers.” International law affirms this.

On January 27, Haaretz reported that the fragile ceasefire was near collapse after an IDF soldier was killed. An air strike followed, and Israeli tanks again were on the move. “Heavy gunfire was audible along the border in central Gaza and Israeli helicopters hovered in the air, firing bursts from their machine guns, Palestinian witnesses said.”

On January 29, Maan News reported that nine Gazans, mostly children, were wounded by an F-16 missile in Khan Younis following overnight strikes at the As-Salam district of Rafah. In addition, IDF tanks “invaded Gaza near Deir Al-Balah, bulldozing agricultural land,” then withdrew in early morning. On the same day, 14 West Bank arrests were made, civilians seized from their homes in Bethlehem, Hebron and Bet Suweif village. A day earlier, the IDF invaded Zboba village, near Jenin, conducted house-to-house searches, enforced a curfew, forced families from their homes, ransacked their belongings, and arrested eight more men.

Incursions like these occur daily. Palestinian Prisoner Society president Qaddura Fares said 300 Gazans were arrested during three weeks of fighting and more when it ended. Israel conceals their names and where they’re held. Some are wounded and untreated. All are denied access to lawyers and ICRC representatives.

On January 30, Haaretz reported that “Israel plans more ‘pinpoint’ strikes against Hamas (and other resistance) in Gaza… read more


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