Broken Ceasefire: Facts about the Israeli War on Palestine

January 9, 2009


BSNews 2009-01-01 — By Michael Hess.    •  more in NEWS & ANALYSIS    header 

Western press have recently and erroneously reported that Hamas broke a six month ceasefire even as most reported in November 2008 that Israel itself first broke the informal truce. In recent days Prime Minister Olmert has tied the end of the current attacks by Israel on Gaza to an international “monitoring” force to ensure that Hamas meets terms of a new ceasefire. Some of the early pre-strike tactics have been questioned by officials, and it is unlikely this latest conflict will resolve anything because it does not address the root cause, the ongoing occupations.

In this decades long occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem there have been many lulls that lapse into tit for tat violence and then creep back into lulls again.

In the most recent case, Hamas and Israel came to an informal agreement in June 2008 where Hamas would halt rocket fire and reign in various militant factions in the Strip while at the same time opening border crossings. Instead, Hamas largely kept the ceasefire and the crossings never opened except for the most sporadic of instances and the humanitarian crisis deepened in Gaza.

Western press in light of the most recent assault on Gaza seem to have forgotten who broke the truce and are erroneously attributing the end of the ceasefire to either rockets and or the expiration of the original agreement.

Hagada Hasmalit provided an analysis of of articles describing the breakdown of the ceasefire and who was responsible and also took the New York Times to task for the devolving reportage during this most recent spate of violence. Viewing the timeline of news reporting from November 4-15, 2008 it becomes crystal clear that Israel broke the ceasefire.

In one of the first stories on the breakdown of the ceasefire the Independent posted a story entitled ‘Massive’ rocket attack launched on Israel and reported the following:


“Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip fired more than 35 rockets towards Israel today, the army and the Islamist group said, hours after the Israeli army killed six militants in the coastal territory. 

An Israeli police spokesman said the rockets landed in southern Israel, causing no damage or injuries.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the attacks, the first such announcement by the Islamist group since an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel went into effect on June 19.”


The Guardian headline read Hamas fires rockets after Israel kills six in Gaza and they reported:


“Hamas militants fired more than 35 rockets into Israel today, hours after the Israeli army killed six people in the Gaza Strip in the first major exchange of fire since a truce took effect in June.”


Amnesty International also covered the breaking of the ceasefire in Gaza ceasefire at risk and wrote:


“The killing of six Palestinian militants in Gaza by Israeli forces in a ground incursion and air strikes on 4 November was followed by a barrage of dozens of Palestinian rockets on nearby towns and villages in the south of Israel. The Palestinian attacks caused no casualties or damage, but there is a real risk that any further armed actions by either side would risk igniting another deadly campaign.”


The Times reported Six die in Israeli attack over Hamas ‘tunnel under border to kidnap soldier’:


“A five-month truce between Israel and the Islamist rulers of the Gaza Strip was foundering yesterday after Israeli special forces entered the besieged territory and fought Hamas militants, leaving six Palestinian fighters dead and four Israeli soldiers wounded.”


Yedioth also covered the breakdown of the ceasefire in a piece headlined IDF leaves Gaza after op, 6 gunmen killed:


“For the first time since the ceasefire took effect in June, IDF forces operated deep in the Gaza Strip Tuesday night in a bid to collapse a tunnel located 250 meters (273 yards) from the border – and which terror groups intended to use for kidnapping Israeli soldiers.”


Haaretz reported the story with a headline entitled IDF kills Hamas man in Gaza clash:


“Israel Defense Forces troops yesterday killed a Hamas gunman and wounded two others in the first armed clash in the Gaza Strip since a cease-fire was declared there in June … Since the cease-fire, the IDF has launched frequent raids across the fence, albeit smaller in scale. The IDF is apparently interested in keeping these incursions low-profile, and they receive little attention in the Israeli media. Additionally, raids tend to be limited to addressing ‘immediate threats,’ as defined by the IDF.”


The New York Times weighed in during mid-December with this article Deadly Gaza Border Clash Threatens Truce:


“At least six Palestinian militants were killed in a clash and an Israeli airstrike on Nov. 4 after an Israeli force entered Gaza for the first time in five months to destroy a tunnel Israel said it believed was intended for use in the abduction of soldiers.”


And again two days later with this piece Hamas Fires Rockets Into Israel:


“The confrontations, following five months of relative calm, began to spike this month when the Israeli military destroyed a tunnel being dug toward Israel … The Israelis said it was an isolated operation, not a violation of the cease-fire agreed to in June, and asked Egypt to pass that message to Hamas in advance. But six Hamas militants were killed during the tunnel’s destruction, leading Hamas to retaliate with rockets, which led to more closings and operations and then more rockets.”


Without a doubt, Israel broke the ceasefire and the calamity predicted by most news sources back in November has come to pass. Israel it seems, never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Ehud Olmert, Jim Jones and an international monitoring force

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said according to the Las Vegas Sun “Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who rebuffed a French proposal for a two-day cease fire, won’t agree to a truce unless international monitors take responsibility for enforcing it, government officials said. He’s made this point in talks with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other world leaders who are pressing for an end to the violence, they added.”

International peace groups and human rights activists have asked for this for years, now in an abrupt about face, Olmert is actually demanding an international force capable of enforcing an agreement.

Perhaps Olmert believes this will only be for the Palestinians. Caroline Glick on the other hand sees great peril for Israel if monitors are introduced.

She was very upset and vocal in early December when President Elect Barack Obama chose General Jim Jones as his National Security Adviser. In a scathing piece in the right-wing Jerusalem Post she wrote:


“…Gen. Jim Jones, Obama’s designated national security adviser, is Israel’s most outspoken critic. The source, who held a two and a half hour meeting with Jones, told his associates that Jones is keen to deploy NATO forces, perhaps including US troops, to Judea and Samaria. 

Jones’s plan, which is vociferously opposed by the IDF, would make it impossible for the IDF to carry out counterterror operations in the areas. As a practical matter, the lives of hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens who live in the areas would be imperiled.”


Of course, Palestinians and much of the world would rightly oppose only a one-sided force with a mandate to only go after Palestinians but not Israel, so it’s not clear what kind of “monitor” force would be imposed. It could just be yet another impossible condition to fulfill, Israel has been known to make demands for impossible conditions.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). 2007-06-07.

UN evidence that there was a semi-official lull

An AP story said “Karen Abu Zayd, commissioner of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which helps Palestinian refugees, raised the possible violation of an informal truce in a video press conference with U.N. reporters from her base in Gaza.”


“‘What we understood here (was) that there was a 48-hour lull to be called, and this was called by the Israelis,’ Abu Zayd said. ‘They said they would wait 48 hours. That was on Friday morning, I believe, until Sunday morning, and that they were going to evaluate.'”


Timing of the initial attacks coincided with the time kids would be most likely on the streets

There’s a certain cynicism from the Israeli government that says it is going out of its way to not target civilians, dropping leaflets, using robocalls to cell phone and yet the timing of the attacks were right at the time when Palestinian schoolchildren would be leaving morning classes or heading to afternoon classes.

A physician from Gaza City, Mona El Farra, currently in the UK wrote about the timing in The Guardian of the first Israeli attacks:


“The first military air strikes struck at the exact time that schoolchildren make their way home. Where I live in Gaza City, several primary schools are very close to the police headquarters that were among the first targets. These horrifying facts explain the high number of women and children among the dead. Thirty children and nine women have been reported dead and another 130 children and 38 women injured … Israel’s actions are creating more and more hatred. While families in Gaza cower in their homes, ready for death to strike, how can Israel talk of peace? Neither building the wall in the West Bank nor attacking Gaza so savagely will bring peace to Israel. Only peace that is based on justice and respects the rights of us all will work in the end. We are humans too.”


The doctor and and deputy director of the Red Crescent Society also lost a 22 year-old cousin in the attacks.

The root cause of all the violence is still being ignored

Most Americans are not aware of this, but for more than four decades, Israel has occupied the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem as well. Israel has illegally transferred hundreds of thousands of its civilians onto land that does not belong to the state.

Unfortunately, I come across Americans nearly every day who believe that Palestinians are just all terrorists that have no land, no rights, not even human dignity because Western media have consistently downplayed the true root cause of almost all Middle East terrorism and its export.

It’s not clear why the media would undermine American national security in this way, or Western interests in general by not fully telling the story of why this conflict rages. It is a fight for Palestinian land (and water resources), Israel wants it, Ariel Sharon “sacrificed” Gaza to keep it; Israel wants the West Bank and East Jerusalem and to hell with any silly UN resolutions or international law.

UN resolutions and international law makes very clear that Palestinians have inalienable rights in this regard. UN resolution 242 sets forth a principle that guides the international community to continually condemn the illegal settlements: “Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war… – yet Israel still ignores this and continues to build illegal settlements. Despite repeated demands, even by the United States, Israel keeps expanding onto land it does not own. The state has built a huge wall that encroaches into Palestinian territory, land that is theirs for a state, it divides families, farmers from the fields, grazing areas and strangles economic activity.

Israel has turned the West Bank into Swiss Cheese, even as George W. Bush lamely claimed that would not happen.

The illegal occupations are driving the violence in the region, but worse than that, they are driving terrorism around the world.

The Israeli occupation of Gaza never ended. That’s yet another myth. It’s a legal matter, but it’s also a matter of common-sense. Israel controls the land, sea, air, borders, prevents so much as an airport, or a fully functioning seaport, it fires upon Gaza fisherman trying to earn a living and feed their families, there’s no doubt about Israel still occupying Gaza even though many claim that it ended. Ban Ki Moon just one year ago declared that Israel still occupies Gaza. In the face of the reality on the ground in the Strip, to claim otherwise is folly yet many ill-informed Israeli supporters still do.

Hamas was initially nurtured by Israel as a counter-weight to Yassir Arafat. It’s usefulness ended upon Arafat’s death and Hamas’ winning free and fair elections. And Hamas is only a symptom of the occupation, this is evidenced by the fact that Hamas only recently celebrated its twenty-first birthday, the occupations have now entered their forty-second year.

Even if Hamas was completely wiped out, another group, probably even more ruthless, or maybe even Al Qaeda itself, would take over the resistance of occupation in the resulting security vacuum.

It will take an international force and a Chapter Seven UN Security Council resolution to reign in Israel and Hamas, the world should very quickly take up Ehud Olmert’s demand and make it so. It’s the only way to finally stop the war crimes on both sides and it would go a long way in the Arab world to finally see some fairness and justice on both sides.



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  2. Excellent!

    -The Muslim Kid-

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