Gazans Explain What They Want From Any Ceasefire
The news today is full of talk about John Kerry going to Cairo and insisting on a ceasefire in the war on Gaza. Obama’s UN Ambassador, Samantha Power, who normally is a warrior for R2P made the same argument at the United Nations, also calling for a ceasefire – though mostly from the Gazans since she began by stressing Israel’s right to self-defense. Of course, no one mentions the Palestinians right to same.
All this comes as Israel continues to level neighbrhoods in Gaza, house by house, with hospitals and girls’ schools thrown in today. Israel justifies this destruction by pointing to Gaza’s refusal of an earlier ceasefire – one that no one discussed with Gaza.
Yet we are supposed to approve of all this because Egypt is involved, as if Egypt is somehow a representative and faithful advocate for the Palestinian people – ignoring the role of the Egyptian military and current leaders in the blockade for which they receive a nice aid check from the US.
Given Israel’s poor record of honoring any restraints on its military actions – here’s one list last updated in 2013 that gives some sense of the scope even if we are unable to confirm all instances: Full List of 287 Documented Israeli Cease Fire Violations – trust in Israeli intentions is not high amongst Gazans. Those incidents are rarely mentioned.
No mention as well is made in our press of the offer from Gaza for a ten year cease fire – nor of Hamas’ record of mostly honoring cease fires when agreed. Writing at Mondoweiss, Francesca Albanese provides a helpful and detailed look at this offer:
Much less noticed by the Western media was that Hamas and Islamic Jihad had meanwhile proposed a 10 year truce on the basis of 10 – very reasonable – conditions. While Israel was too busy preparing for the ground invasion, why didn’t anyone in the diplomatic community spend a word about this proposal? The question is all the more poignant as this proposal was in essence in line with what many international experts as well as the United Nations have asked for years now, and included some aspects that Israel had already considered as feasible requests in the past.
The main demands of this proposal revolve around lifting the Israeli siege in Gaza through the opening of its borders with Israel to commerce and people, the establishment of an international seaport and airport under U.N. supervision, the expansion of the permitted fishing zone in the Gaza sea to 10 kilometers, and the revitalization of Gaza industrial zone. None of these demands is new.
Today we have another message from Gaza, again being ignored in the PR of Kerry and Powers and all – a message from a broad group of Gaza based “academics, public figures and activists.” Reported in the Palestine Telegraph, a digital report launched during Operation Cast Lead, these Gazans:
call for a ceasefire with Israel only if conditioned on an end to the blockade and the restoration of basic freedoms that have been denied to the people for more than seven years.
Our foremost concerns are not only the health and safety of the people in our communities, but also the quality of their lives – their ability to live free of fear of imprisonment without due process, to support their families through gainful employment, and to travel to visit their relatives and further their education. These are fundamental human aspirations that have been severely limited for the Palestinian people for 47 years, but that have been particularly deprived from residents of Gaza since 2007. We have been pushed beyond the limits of what a normal person can be expected to endure.
And pointed out that a return to the status quo “would mean a return to a living death” they detail their demands:
Therefore, we call for a ceasefire only when negotiated conditions result in the following:
• Freedom of movement of Palestinians in and out of the Gaza Strip.
• Unlimited import and export of supplies and goods, including by land, sea and air.
• Unrestricted use of the Gaza seaport.
• Monitoring and enforcement of these agreements by a body appointed by the United Nations, with appropriate security measures.
That surely doesn’t seem too much to ask.