A 72-hour ceasefire began at midnight on Monday of this week, but the death toll from Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza now exceeds 1,900 people. The majority were civilians, including nearly 500 children.
On average Israel has murdered over a dozen children a day since it began its current massacre in Gaza. Nearly 12,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged and at least 425,000 people have been displaced.
The last ceasefire ended on Friday of last week after Hamas refused an Israeli offer of an extension at talks hosted by Egypt’s military-backed government.
However Egypt then proposed another new 72-hour ceasefire that Hamas accepted. Hamas has remained adamant there will be no extended truce without serious concessions from Israel, specifically lifting the blockade.
The previous ceasefire did nothing for Israel’s already damaged international image. Rescue teams and media were able to get closer to the full scale of the destruction.
They saw evidence of the contempt that Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldiers have for Palestinian lives.
As people returned to homes that were used by the IDF they found faeces and urine along with vile messages on walls and tables, such as “a good Arab=a dead Arab”.
Scrawled on a blackboard in a school in Beit Hanoun were the words “don’t forget it’s your time to die”.
Amnesty International joined calls last week for an investigation into war crimes as they gathered evidence of Israel deliberately targeting hospitals and health professionals in Gaza.
Israel is already preparing for the fallout from this massacre. The IDF have established a team to prepare for war crime allegations.
Reports from Israel suggest that they will declare Gaza “enemy territory” to avoid paying for reconstruction.
In Britain there has been a huge shift in public opinion towards support for Palestine and this is putting pressure on the government.
A public appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee raised £4.5 million in less than 24 hours.
The government contributed £2 million and also declared that it will send 15 NHS doctors and nurses to Gaza.
Much of the anger rightly focuses on Britain’s arms sales to Israel–there are £8 billion worth of existing military export licences.
If such weapons weren’t sold there would be no need for the nurses and doctors.
The Scottish government has called for an arms embargo on Israel. The British government are conducting a review of all export licences due to be published this week.
Israel’s actions are making it a pariah. Britain’s Israeli embassy has been begging for help with their propaganda campaign.
One London official posted a desperate plea in a Jewish newspaper. “We at the embassy cannot reach everyone. We cannot do this explaining alone,” they said.
“We need our friends in the Jewish community and beyond to speak up.”
Netanyahu failed in his goal of breaking Palestinian unity
The massacre in Gaza has nothing to do with “terror tunnels” or “restoring quiet” to Israel–they have known about Hamas’ use of tunnels for many years.
Israel’s assault on Gaza aimed to weaken Hamas and scupper the unity deal between Hamas and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) who control the West Bank.
But this week even the pro-Israel New York Times newspaper ran an article headlined “How Hamas beat Israel in Gaza”.
The unity deal helped to expose the fact that Israel are not interested in peace.
Prior to the agreement, Israel claimed it could not achieve a final settlement with the PA as they did not represent Gaza.
When the unity agreement was made Israel refused to negotiate with the PA because they were working with Hamas who it considers a terrorist organisation.
Israel’s bombing campaign has increased the appetite for unity as the people of Gaza lose mothers, fathers, children and friends.
Israel is murdering Fatah supporters and Hamas supporters alike.
Many Fatah supporters have voiced their support for the Hamas resistance in interviews.
On many of the protests in the West Bank Palestinians carry the green flags and banners of Hamas in solidarity.
Hamas and Fatah leaders have approached the negotiations with the same message–Israel must end the blockade of Gaza.
PA president Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly condemned Israel’s massacre of the people of Gaza.
US president Barack Obama has been forced to echo their demand for an end to the blockade, saying that Gaza cannot remain closed off from the rest of the world.
A sign of Hamas’ feeling of strength has been its refusal to agree to many of the ceasefires since the onslaught began.
Although it is militarily outgunned there is a sense that Israel is suffering more politically as a result of its campaign.
But within Israel, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made gains since the onslaught started. His popularity and approval ratings have shot up to over 80 percent and support for Israel’s campaign is close to 90 percent.
The US has recognised this and is worried it may prove an obstacle to a permanent ceasefire.
In an interview with the New York Times Obama suggested that Netanyahu’s popularity means that he will not be under any pressure to make compromises.