Israel-Hamas ceasefire reached, but disagreements remain

Monday, 2018-11-19 12:48:31
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An Israeli soldier stands next to an armoured personnel carriers (APC) in a field in southern Israel, near the border with Gaza November 13, 2018. (Reuters)
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NDO – Under the mediation of Egypt, Israel and Palestine’s armed groups in the Gaza Strip, including the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), have reached a ceasefire agreement to end the worst escalation of violence in the region since 2014. The deal has “undermined” tensions between Israel and Hamas which risk pushing Palestine’s coastal land to the brink of war. However, Israel’s defence minister Avigdor Lieberman announcing his resignation shortly after the ceasefire has revealed disagreements within the Israeli government over the Gaza issue.

Tensions between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip escalated after Israeli fighter jets fired eight missiles at the headquarters of Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa Television in Gaza, destroying the building and damaging others nearby. The Israeli forces have conducted more than 70 air strikes in retaliation for rocket attacks from Palestinian territories. Previously, Hamas and other armed forces launched more than 400 rockets or mortars across the border area following an anti-tank missile attack on an Israeli bus that injured a soldier. The Palestinian side said that more than a dozen people, including mostly Gaza gunmen, died in recent Israeli attacks.

The retaliatory attacks between Israel and Hamas in Gaza continued for the past few months. Violence is pushing the land of Palestine into a serious crisis – suffering impacts from Israel’s siege and embargo policy, the Gaza Strip engulfed in war fire, and the shortage of electricity, food and necessities. The situation worsened after the US decided to cut aid funding for Palestinian refugees. The United Nations Security Council held a closed-door meeting to discuss the escalating violence in Gaza, but no deal was reached on how to deal with the crisis. The UN, the Arab League, countries and the international community have urged the conflicting parties to exercise restraint and called for a solution to the conflict in Gaza. However, international efforts are “paralysed” by hard-line disagreements between Israel and Hamas.

As diplomatic efforts seem to be in a deadlock, Egypt showed its proactive and active role in the Middle East peace process. Although the results did not meet expectations, a ceasefire was reached, helping to relieve concerns over the possible explosion of the gunpowder barrel in Gaza. However, shortly after the ceasefire in Gaza was agreed by the Israeli government, Israeli defence minister Lieberman announced his resignation expressing disagreement over the ceasefire in Gaza, while urging the government to soon hold elections. According to Lieberman, Israel’s Egypt-mediated deal with Hamas was “surrender to terrorism”. He also claimed that his right-wing party Yisrael Beitenu would leave the coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Turkey criticised the international community’s silence in the face of dangerous developments in the Gaza Strip. Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Saeb Erekat urged the international community to defend the Gaza region after Israeli air strikes. He insisted that all Israeli attacks should be brought to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and called on the international community to do its utmost to prevent a massacre aimed at the Palestinian people in Gaza. However, the actual situation in Gaza, where retaliatory attacks still occur daily, creates great difficulty in getting the parties to the negotiating table. Meanwhile, Palestine now rejects the US’s mediating role in the Middle East peace process. The peace roadmap between Israel and Palestine is in need of a hitch, but the issue also depends on goodwill as well as the concession of the parties concerned.