Photo by Global Panorama (Foter)
By Naomi Friedman
Although hostilities between Israel and Gaza are on a temporary halt, the full acquisition of the cease-fire treaty has not been set in stone quite yet.
The open-ended cease-fire started on Tuesday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m.. Rocket fire and airstrikes con- tinued until the last moments and sirens sounded across southern Israel past 7 p.m.. Two Israelis were killed and several injured shortly before the deadline, according to the Israel Defense Force. In Gaza, two children were killed in an airstrike before the cease-fire.
Soon after the cease-fire began, celebratory gunfire and car honks sounded all over Gaza, while mosques announced victory through loudspeakers. People flooded the streets in response to text messages sent by Hamas urging victory celebration.
The terms of the deal are almost identical to those agreed to at the end of the previous war in November 2012.
The deal stipulates that Israel will open crossings on its borders to allow humani- tarian aid and construction materials to enter Gaza; Israel will extend the permitted fishing zone to six miles off the coast of Gaza; and the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Israel will be reopened.
The more difficult issues have been postponed for further indirect talks between Israel and Hamas in a month. This includes Hamas’s demands for an airport and seaport in Gaza and the release of Palestinian prisoners, as well as Israel’s insistence on the disarmament of militant groups and the return of the remains of two of their soldiers killed in the fighting.
The Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has indirectly criticized Hamas, saying that the agreement signed on Aug. 26 between Israel and Hamas was no different from the original proposal made by Egypt at the beginning of this seven-weeks war—a proposal which was rejected by Hamas. The only difference, Abbas points out, is the “losses and suffering we went through” (Jerusalem Post). Nevertheless, both Hamas and Abbas have said Israel will pay for its “crimes and massacres” against the Palestinian people (Jerusalem Post).
“Israel has accepted an Egyptian proposal for a complete and unlimited-in-time cease-fire. Is- rael already accepted the Egyptian proposal on July 15. Israel has always supported an uncondi- tional, open-ended cease-fire,” said an Israel government official (The Guardian). Despite Israel’s claim that they always supported the cease-fire, the public has not responded well to the decision.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was heavily criticized last week for not bring- ing the cease-fire agreement to a vote in the cabinet. According to a poll published in the Israeli Maariv, 58% of Israeli Jews consider the government’s decision as a mistake, and 61% do not think Netanyahu reached his goal of prolonged quiet (WSJ). Tal Schneider, an Israeli political analyst, said the current polls reflected a still-volatile opinion of a public that hasn’t recovered from the trauma of the battle.
Tensions remain very high between the two opposing groups, and it is yet to be seen whether this cease-fire will truly be the end of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in Gaza. Israeli citizens are unconvinced of their safety. Pazit Ben Hamo, an Israeli mother, doubts Netanyahu’s concern for his people over international pressure. “From my experience of living here under rocket fire for 14 years, I don’t think this will end completely,” she said. “We will definitely have rockets hitting us again at some point. That’s what happens when you make agreements with a terrorist organiza- tion” (The Washington Post).
“The question is now, ‘What’s next?’” Abbas said in a televised address. “Gaza suffered three wars and are we expecting another one? We will consult friends and the international community, and we can’t continue with cloudy negotiations” (The Guardian).