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When Is a Ceasefire Not a Ceasefire?

Today has been a confusing day with news of a 12 hour humanitarian ceasefire followed by talk of a four hour extension that may or may not have been accepted by Israel and was rejected by Hamas – and now, as I write, talk of a new 24 hour ceasefire.

While Israeli forces warned Gazans not to go to their home areas during the ceasefire, many did and the images and news are devastating with over 1000 dead, over 5000 injured and likely more in the rubble.

From various twitter reports, the potential four hour extension either ended with some Hamas rockets heading towards Tel Aviv or with Israeli troops shooting and killing a Palestinian. Clearly we don’t know.

And reports are surging of Israeli attacks on a Gaza refugee camp – including a school as I type.

One thing does seem clear. While Israel refuses to discuss the secret Egyptian offer which is rumored to have some Gaza friendly terms and no one seems to even notice the Hamas offer of a ten year ceasefire if basic rights are honored and the seige is lifted, Israel gets all the credit for agreeing to any ceasefire – even though they were using it as cover for their continued destruction of the Hamas built tunnels or as the Financial Times writes:

Israel’s army continued its work on Hamas tunnels on Saturday, a government official said, even during the pause in fighting.

And in the BBC’s new report, Israel agrees to 24-hour Gaza ceasefire:

Hamas said it wanted a complete stop to fighting and an end to Gaza’s blockade.

“Any humanitarian calm that does not include the withdrawal of occupation soldiers from the Gaza Strip and enable the people to return to their houses and to evacuate the wounded is not acceptable,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters.

Israel said that it would continue operations against tunnels used by Hamas during this period.

The LA Times has more than most:

Even during the initial daylight cease-fire, Israeli troops continued working to destroy Hamas-dug “attack” tunnels, the army said…

Israel’s insistence that such operations continue during any longer cease-fire has been a key sticking point to efforts to hammer out a weeklong truce, which would take place in tandem with negotiations on the two sides’ demands.

Al Jazeera has an in-depth interview with Osama Hamdan, “one of Hamas’ senior leaders and head of foreign relations” and it includes a lot of information we are not getting elsewhere:

Hamdan: If the [ceasefire] initiative includes what we are asking for, then we will deal with it positively and we may go to the ceasefire directly. 

I think Kerry understands more than anyone how the Israelis are playing games. They say yes and then they do nothing. 

So he has to be clear with them, and he also has to give guarantees that the Israeli side will deliver what will be asked of them.

AJ: There is international pressure to immediately accept a humanitarian truce, rather than waiting for a long-term ceasefire that specifically requests that the siege be lifted. What is your response?

Hamdan: Accepting an immediate truce will not solve the problem. If they are talking about a humanitarian ceasefire, part of that will have to do with lifting the siege. 

We cannot talk about a humanitarian solution while there is a blockade on Gaza, where we do not have medicine, essential needs, and reconstruction materials entering Gaza.

You cannot put Palestinians in a jail and tell them to live quietly.

And when asked whether Hamas is ok with Egypt’s involvement:

There were agreements in 2012 and 2009 supervised by the Egyptians as well. There was the prisoners exchange deal in 2011; all those agreements were violated by the Israelis. So the problem is that Israel believes that no one is questioning anything they are doing.

If Kerry wants to achieve a real ceasefire, he has to find a way to pressure Israel to stop its occupation.

Read the whole interview here – it’s the side of the news not being told.

Meanwhile, today in Chicago:

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Siun is a proud Old Town resident who shares her home with two cats and a Great Pyrenees. She’s worked in media relations and on the net since before the www, led the development of a corporate responsibility news service, and knows what a mult box is thanks to Nico. When not swimming in the Lake, she leads a team working on sustainability tools.

Email: media dot firedoglake at gmail dot com