DC Edit | Fragile Gaza ceasefire is still better than war

Update: 2023-11-22 18:40 GMT
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023. (AP/PTI)

A fragile 4-day ceasefire is better than war in which an already crumbling Gaza City has been pounded out of shape by Israeli bombing and shelling. The humanitarian pauses in fighting, brought about after intense negotiations hosted in Qatar between the political wing of Hamas and Tel Aviv by representatives of leading powers, principally the US which has backed Israeli operations against Hamas.

There will be a coordinated release of hostages – 12 abductee women and children a day by Hamas in exchange for 150 Palestinian women and minors held in Israeli prisons over four days – while 300 aid trucks a day carrying fuel, food and medicines will be allowed into Gaza.

The aid should be of great relief to the Palestinians of Gaza who have become refugees in what is their own land in a war being waged in retaliation to the horror terror strike carried out by Hamas on October 7 causing 12,000 deaths in Israel plus the taking of hostages and triggering a massive, if disproportionate, response, from Israel and leading to the deaths of over 13,000 Palestinians.

It is being reported that for every additional 10 hostages released there would be another day of lull in the fighting, as well as a halt to Israeli military flights over Gaza except in a six-hour operational window a day. It is up to Hamas operatives and their political wing to use the provision for extending this pause that is seen as the biggest breakthrough since Israel planned and began its ground invasion into Gaza.

Of greater import than the immediate relief to the beleaguered Gazans and Hamas’ captive abductees of Israel and 40 other nations in Gaza City tunnels even as Israeli troops maintain their positions in northern Gaza would be that the negotiated breakthrough can be extended to a more durable peace. That would, of course, be contingent on the world powers using their influence to get the truce extended and begin getting the “two-State” concept off the ground.

This would appear to be the perfect time for the much touted and yet valid historical argument for establishing an independent Palestinian homeland that has not been hewn out of the territory since the birth of Israel 75 years ago.

This could be ascribed to Israeli reluctance to countenance such recognition of Palestine as a country, the powerful Arab nations of the region are also to blame for not actively promoting the idea of a democratic Palestinian homeland concept and whose security won’t lie at the hands of Israel as in the West Bank and as it used to be in the Gaza Strip too.

It is ironical and yet promising in a way that Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, whose forces have been pummelling away at Ukraine for over 22 months, should also be one of the world leaders along with China’s President Xi Jinping who called for this pause in fighting in Gaza when speaking to a BRICS meeting convened to call for a ceasefire.

Their responsibility should logically extend to warning Iran and its proxy Hezbollah about any provocative actions like targeting Israel with guided missiles and rockets along the Lebanon-Israel border that seem to be giving Israel the licence to retaliate with airstrikes on Lebanese border towns. This opportunity for a durable peace in the region may not last long and must be seized by world powers in an initiative bigger than extending the ceasefire.


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