A deal has been struck between Israel and Hamas which could see a four day pause in fighting while a limited prisoner swap takes place and some aid is allowed into Gaza.
The timing and exact details of the deal remain unclear. What is clear is Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s pledge to continue the offensive in Gaza once the four day pause is over. “We are at war,” he said, “and we will continue the war until we achieve all our goals”. Israeli spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus echoed this, saying the Israeli military will “use the time to prepare for future operations”.
Israel’s “operations” have so far killed more than 13,000 Palestinians, including more than 6,000 children. It has systematically bombed, attacked and destroyed hospitals, schools, bakeries, water and sewage systems, power plants, mosques, churches and all other vital infrastructure, along with more than a third of all residential buildings. More than a million Gazans have been forcibly displaced, while Israeli MPs and intelligence officials have openly discussed plans to expel the entire Palestinian population from the Gaza Strip—a second Nakba.
The genocidal dreams of Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich were on display recently when he shared an article on X by former head of the Israeli National Security Council Giora Eiland, saying he “agreed with every word”. In the article Eiland argues that "Israel must ... not provide the other side with any capability that prolongs its life ... When senior Israeli figures tell the media, ‘It’s either us or them,’ we should clarify the question of who is ‘them’. ‘They’ are not only Hamas fighters with weapons but also all the ‘civilian’ officials, including hospital administrators and school administrators, and also the entire Gaza population”.
While even a temporary or partial relief from Israel’s genocidal offensive will understandably be welcomed, the fact that it plans to resume the mass slaughter after just four days means there is very little to celebrate in the ceasefire deal.
A potential danger for the Palestine solidarity movement internationally, much of which has rallied around the demand for a ceasefire, is that some people could be lulled into thinking that this is the beginning of the end of Israel’s bloody rampage, and that we can ease off on the unprecedented explosion of pro-Palestine protest we have seen over the last seven weeks.
This would be a mistake. The deal won’t even bring an end to the immediate suffering of the people of Gaza. Even if there is a pause in fighting for four days, Israeli troops will remain where they are, and most much-needed aid, supplies and rescue efforts for the thousands trapped under rubble will continue to be blocked.
Neither does the deal move things closer to anything resembling genuine peace and justice for the Palestinians. As a statement released by pro-Palestinian activist groups around Australia that have been organising massive weekly demonstrations argues, “Even if Israel were not simply pausing before another onslaught, a ceasefire would not address any of the broader demands of the Palestinian people. Israel continues to occupy land across historic Palestine, including in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Using the Gaza war as cover, armed Israeli settlers have been stealing new territory, destroying crops and depopulating entire villages”.
The ceasefire deal will not free the 10,000 Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli prisons. It won’t end the military occupation and accelerating process of violent ethnic cleansing and settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It won’t end the apartheid conditions for Palestinians living inside the state of Israel or give the millions of Palestinian refugees around the world the right to return to their homeland.
All this shows why the Palestine solidarity movement around the world can’t base itself merely on the slogan of “ceasefire”. It must embrace the wider cause of ending the oppression of Palestinians in all its forms. Those of us in countries that support Israel also need to demand that our governments break ties with this state, the existence and ongoing expansion of which rests on the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.
As the activist statement quoted above concludes, “We will not be fooled by media lies and Israeli spin. The struggle must continue until the Palestinians have justice”.
Human Rights Watch, an international investigative and reporting organisation, says that it has “significant human rights concerns” about Australia’s treatment of refugees and Aboriginal people.
To drive a whole people out of their land—to turn it into something akin to the Zionist myth of Palestine, supposedly “a land without a people for a people without a land”—requires many things. Most obviously, it requires the killing and terrorising of Palestinian people on a colossal scale.
What would you do with $1.5 million? You could put down deposits on ten median-priced Sydney houses, or you could buy one outright and spare yourself the crushing mortgage repayments.
The level of suffering in Gaza is more than the human mind can comprehend. As the war enters its twentieth week, it feels increasingly obscene to be going about daily life while an entire people are being systematically destroyed, their lives, histories and culture blown to pieces or buried under rubble.
The Banyule Palestine Action Group has collected more than 600 signatures on a petition calling on Banyule City Council, in Melbourne’s north-east, to pass a motion supporting an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, in line with motions passed in other councils across Australia.
Asked how she stays hopeful as a 63-year-old socialist and Palestinian living in the diaspora, Reem Yunis replies: “I don’t have the luxury not to be inspired. My grandparents died without seeing a liberated Palestine, my parents died and were buried in the diaspora. Most of my people are living in the diaspora, and the ones in Palestine are being robbed of water, resources and every bit of land they have. We need to have hope and fight, because if we won’t fight for a free Palestine, who will?”