Cease-fire fatally undermined by Israeli liquidation policy

20 November 2012

Cease-fire fatally undermined by Israeli liquidation policy

With the attack on Hamas commandant Ahmed Jabari, Israel last week resumed a policy of liquidation in the Gaza Strip. It has now become clear that this extrajudicial execution killed off any chance of a lasting cease-fire.

by Harry van Bommel

Harry van BommelAccording to Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, who maintains good contacts with Hamas and was last year involved in the freeing of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, a few hours before the fatal attack Jabari received a draft version of a permanent cease-fire agreement with Israel. Baskin further related how Israel, even though it was already informed of this, decided to go ahead with the attack on Jabari. A day after this attack, Baskin described it as a strategic error which would lead to the deaths of many innocent people. Just one short week later it must unfortunately be confirmed that the peace activist was correct.

In Baskin’s view, those responsible for this decision will be dealt with at the coming elections in Israel. The reality is, however, somewhat different. Muscular language and military attacks have lead in the past to electoral gains, and many analysts correctly connect the present attacks to the elections that take place in Israel on 22nd January.

Killing Hamas leaders in targeted attacks leads not to a reduction in violence but to its further escalation. The same would go for an Israeli invasion on the ground. The latest invasion of the Gaza Strip at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009 was unable to put an end to rocket attacks, but it did put an end to the lives of some 1,300 Palestinians, many of them civilians, while thirteen Israelis died during this war. Israeli violence was entirely out of proportion and led directly to the suspension of European proposals for a deepening of the relationship with Israel.

Israel hints openly at a new ground invasion. Given the large numbers of civilian victims which would be the very likely result, preventing such an event is of enormous importance. Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans is correct to note that Israel has the right to defend itself, but the deaths of so many civilians, including a great many children, is unacceptable. It is equally unacceptable that arms exports from Europe to Israel continue to take place. No weapons should be exported to regions undergoing armed conflict.

Finally, no doubt can exist over the fact that rocket attacks by Hamas or other groups must be condemned. When last year I visited the Israeli town of Sderot, less than a mile from the Gaza Strip, in the company of SP leader Emile Roemer, I could see with my own eyes how this terror is making people sick with fear. It is of the greatest importance, however, not to lose sight of the core of the conflict. As long as the Gaza Strip is blockaded and the people there subjected in this way to collective punishment and kept in severe poverty, and as long as there is no sign whatsoever of a political resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a durable solution to this escalating violence will not be possible.

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