Despite its claims, Israel failed to achieve its objectives in Gaza of smashing Palestinian resistance. Its ceasefire means little while it continues to blockade Gaza and reserve its right to invade at a moment’s notice.After three weeks of horrific slaughter in Gaza, Israel announced a “unilateral ceasefire” on Sunday 18 January.
Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert claimed victory, declaring that Israel had achieved all its objectives in Gaza.
Over 1300 Palestinians died during the conflict. Four thousand homes were destroyed, along with UN-run schools and hospitals. Up to 400,000 Palestinians were still without water two days after the ceasefire took effect.
But despite the horror and Israel’s chest-beating, Hamas and the spirit of Palestinian resistance is far from broken.
Palestinian resistance continues
Israel aimed to deal a crushing blow to Hamas, the Palestinians’ democratically-elected leaders, who have spearheaded resistance to Israeli aggression in recent years.
But Hamas survived the assault, and has emerged strengthened as Palestinians rallied to its support.
Another of Israel’s boasts was that it would end the ability of Hamas and other resistance organisations in Gaza to fire rockets into Israel. But their ability to launch rockets into Israel is intact, with firing continuing right up until the beginning of the ceasefire.
The Israeli army, as in Lebanon in 2006, failed to achieve its aims. Their state of the art fighter jets and bombs, funded by the United States, failed to break a poorly equipped resistance movement.
Israel under international pressure
Israel’s credibility has been further weakened by its ruthless assault. Around the world millions joined serious and sustained protests.
The US’s chief client states in the Middle East have come under severe pressure. Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s deeply unpopular dictator, has been the target of demonstrations inside Egypt as well as across the region for his collusion in Israel’s actions in Gaza.
Outrage about Israeli war crimes has spread far beyond the usual circles.
Amnesty International cited evidence of white phosphorus use in Gaza—a clear violation of international law, which bans the use of the substance in high-density civilian areas.
Despite the talk of a ceasefire, there will be no “peace” for the people of Gaza.
Firstly—we know how Israel behaves under a ceasefire. During the ceasefire from June until November last year, Hamas did not fire a single rocket at Israel.
Yet Israel tightened the screws—extending its economic blockade of Gaza and ensuring the 1.5 million residents go without food, water, electricity and sewerage. This was after promising to ease the blockade as part of the ceasefire agreement.
The blockade has all but destroyed the Gazan economy. The UN says 80 per cent of people in Gaza are reliant on food aid. People are trapped in the Gaza strip—unable to escape bombs as well as unable to leave to find work.
Israel has refused to lift the blockade as part of any ceasefire agreement, and is demanding its tightening so that Hamas in unable to ship any arms into Gaza.
But within days of Israel’s ceasefire the network of tunnels used to get shipments into Gaza was reopened. The Palestinian people have shown that they will continue to resist the squeeze of Israeli imperialism.
There can only be one kind of lasting ceasefire in Palestine—a just peace.
This means the end of Israel’s apartheid system and the end of its continuation as a state with special privileges that apply to Jews only.
Millions worldwide have taken to the streets in support of the people of Gaza in recent weeks. This includes tens of thousands across Australia.
We need to continue to demonstrate to demand Israel is held to account. Forcing our own Kevin Rudd to break his government’s all but unconditional support for Israel’s torture of Gaza would help make this possible.
By Ernest Price