Israel- Hamas: the futility of another temporary ceasefire

The old city of Jerusalem, The old city of Jerusalem, Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash

28 May 2021

The UN welcomes the de-escalation but warns that it was  only a matter of time before the next round of violence commences

On 21 May, Israel and Hamas agreed on a ceasefire after 11 days of fighting in which around 270 people were killed - the vast majority Palestinian, including dozens of women and children. This final escalation of the conflict was a consequence of weeks of constantly increasing tensions in East Jerusalem, which had culminated in clashes at the al-Aqsa mosque between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli soldiers, the latter having conducted  provocative actions. The Egypt-brokered ceasefire, supported by the UN and the entire  international community, halted the worst fighting in years between the Jewish state and the Islamic group de facto ruling Gaza. However, there is no doubt that the ceasefire, though very much necessary, is only a temporary solution that will not bring long-lasting peace in the region. Egypt is now holding talks with Israeli authorities and both, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, to transform the truce into a permanent ceasefire.

In her report  to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Michelle Bachelet condemned the indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas, which claimed 12 lives in Israel, as well as Isreali air strikes inside Gaza, which left more than 250 dead. More importantly, the UN Human Rights Council agreed to launch an international independent investigation to examine war crimes allegedly committed by both parties. In this regard, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Palestinian delegation submitted a resolution to the HCR which  was adopted  by 24 votes to nine. Ms. Bachelet stated that “indiscriminate strikes from rockets launched by Hamas constituted a clear violation of international humanitarian law, while Israel’s strikes in Gaza, which caused widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure and fatalities, might constitute war crimes”.

Violence from either  side must always be condemned, and the UN Human Rights Council’s decision to investigate the recent violent conflict is thus timely. However, it is clear that the UN and the international community must take a step further to end a situation that has been lasting for more than 70 years. To achieve this, the root causes of the conflict must be addressed, as otherwise violence will flare-up time and again. Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, the construction of Jewish settlements in occupied territories, the eviction of Palestinians from their houses, and the blockade of Gaza need to end. The humanitarian cost in Gaza, in the Occupied Territories, and, to a lower extent, also in Israel was tremendous, and civilians, as so often, have been paying the price.

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Author: Michele Pitta

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