Israel has declared an end to its latest devastating assault on the Gaza Strip—but its siege and war on Palestinians will continue.
So too could Palestinians’ resistance.
Announcing the ceasefire, a statement from Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu boasted of the “great accomplishments” of Israel’s military.
These include the murder of 232 people, including at least 65 children, in what Palestinians in the Gaza Strip describe as the most intense airstrikes they have ever endured.
The assault also forced at least 58,000 Palestinians to flee their homes. It destroyed 1,000 homes, made 1,800 unfit for living, and damaged another 14,900.
Residents of the Gaza Strip had just a few hours of electricity a day during the assault.
This was a campaign of collective punishment of Palestinians by Israel.
Israeli politicians claimed to target only tunnels and buildings used by resistance group Hamas, which governs in the Gaza Strip.
Yet its targets included high rise apartment blocks, which it bombed without warning.
Israel’s defence minister Benny Gantz said on Tuesday that “no person, area or neighbourhood in Gaza is immune.”
For all the killing, the ceasefire is not a victory for Israel.
When Israel began the assault last week, Netanyahu and Gantz said the bombing wouldn’t stop until there was “complete quiet” from the armed resistance groups.
Yet the assault did not stop the resistance groups firing volleys of rockets towards Israel.
The number of people killed by Palestinian rockets—12—is far fewer than those who died under Israel’s airstrikes. But commentators in Israeli newspapers complained that the volume of rockets meant enough were able to break through Israel’s defences and cause some disruption to daily life.
They are even more worried about the resistance by ordinary people that spread across all of Palestine.
Israel’s latest assault on Palestinians began when its border police forces attacked Palestinian protesters and worshippers in Jerusalem earlier this month.
People in Jerusalem have been resisting moves to evict Palestinian families in Jerusalem and Israel’s attempts to restrict access to the Al-Aqsa mosque during Ramadan.
Protests began to spread among Palestinians living inside Israel when its forces tried to prevent hundreds of them from reaching Al-Aqsa. When Israeli cops attacked thousands of worshippers at Al-Aqsa during the holiest night of Ramadan, Palestinians bravely fought back.
Hamas, knowing its support depends on its association with resistance, launched rockets to demand Israel remove its forces from Al-Aqsa.
Israel hoped its airstrikes on Gaza would silence Hamas and turn the focus away from Jerusalem. Instead, a huge wave of protests and strikes has spread across all of Palestine.
It culminated in a general strike on Tuesday that united Palestinians across the borders that Israel uses to divide them.
Israeli politicians, generals and commentators are all terrified that this resistance by ordinary people will be much harder to stamp out.
“Looking for Gaza victory against Hamas, Israel lost the battle for Jerusalem,” warned one headline in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “Netanyahu Is leading Israel into civil war between Jews and Palestinians,” warned another.
Israel’s main supporter, the US, which it relies on entirely, was also worried about the resistance.
The US has spent the past few years trying to unite Israel with the rulers of nearby Arab states that support its control of the Middle East.
The explosion of Palestinian resistance led to mass protests in solidarity—and forced Arab governments to condemn Israel.
While the US pressured Israel to “de-escalate,” Hamas relied on the rulers of Egypt to “mediate” with Israel on its behalf.
On Thursday, Hamas’s leaders said they would agree to a ceasefire only if Israel stopped the evictions in Jerusalem and the invasions of Al-Aqsa.
After the ceasefire Hamas said it had “guarantees” that Israel’s aggression in Jerusalem would stop. It wouldn’t say what those guarantees were or how they would be enforced.
In fact, it’s the mass protests and strikes that have forced concessions by Israel. Protests in Jerusalem forced Israel to postpone the court hearing to begin the evictions and to remove barriers restricting access to Al-Aqsa.
Israel won’t easily abandon the eviction—but as soon as it does, it risks fuelling even bigger resistance.
Such resistance will be needed. Even if the ceasefire holds it won’t end the occupation and Israel’s racist policies towards Palestinians. The settlements, checkpoints and laws that discriminate against Palestinians will remain—as will the siege of Gaza.
The battle for liberation continues.
Speaking just hours before the ceasefire, Mohammed, a Palestinian living under Israel’s occupation, told Socialist Worker, “In Jerusalem people have managed to stop evictions from happening. When Israel put up the barriers, they managed to remove them.
“They’ve tasted the power that they have. And now they know that they can use it.”
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