Cease-Fire in Gaza
The news broke on August 26th, 2014 that a permanent cease fire between Israel and Hamas was agreed upon through Egyptian mediators.
Overall, the Israeli invasion into Gaza took the lives of over 2200 Palestinians, and Hamas’ actions took the lives of 69 Israelis. In these totals are military and non-combatants, with a high percentage of the 2200 Palestinians being non-combatants. And while the final terms of the cease-fire have not yet been publicized, according to reports, it is believed that there will be some loosening of the Israeli blockade in Gaza. What this will look like exactly has not been stated, but it is believed that at least some additional room will be made available for aid and possibly some construction supplies. It has also been mentioned that there may be more freedom within the waters of Gaza.
However, the negotiations between the two sides may not end here, as s0me believe they are expected to resume their negotiations regarding the building of a Gazan seaport, as well as negotiate the release of Palestinian prisoners. Others however have been more critical of this possibility.
While this is excellent news, what we must keep in mind throughout this conflict is that Israeli and Hamas fighters committed crimes against civilians. Thousands of Palestinian children and other non-combatants were killed by Israeli military aggression, and Hamas also shot rockets indiscriminately into Israel. What is needed is the continued investigation into war crimes, and then subsequent legal institutions regarding punishment for such crimes.
In addition, despite the cease fire, Israel continues to occupy the Palestinian territories. This continues to be illegal under international law. Many may applaud the end to the fighting, but the human rights of Palestinians are surely not fully protected as long as Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza (despite leaders’ arguments that they are no longer controlling Gaza). The worry is that people will forget that Israel continues to oppress Palestinian rights, and that any opening of Gaza borders is a favor instead of a Palestinian right.
Lastly, we cannot forget the children and non-combatants who lost their lives because of this fighting. Their right to life has been taken from them, and we as an international community focused on ideas of global citizenship, human rights, and a world community, cannot become quiet as the “status-quo” of occupation following a cease-fire is celebrated; in the celebration are families devastated by losing loved ones, daughters, sons, family members to an Israeli invasion that took the lives of so many innocent Palestinians, as well as the Israeli families who lost their loved ones by Hamas rocket fire.
Hamas and Israeli military officials should be held accountable for these crimes, and we as a world community must continue to speak on behalf of human rights, and must not forget all of those thousands who died due to this Israeli invasion, as the loss of any human life is tragic, and anyone who has taken a life of a person, as well as the leaders who initiated such a aggressive military policy, should be tried in an international criminal court.