The ceasefire that came into effect around midnight on August 10 was still holding — just — on August 11. Egypt had brokered yet another pause in the hostilities between Hamas and Israel, but it remains to be seen whether the 72-hour humanitarian window can be stretched into something longer and more durable. The omens are not good, and if this ceasefire collapses, then the prospect of a long-drawn and bitter war looms large. The new ceasefire is the eighth in the current conflict and if it holds, a delegation from Israel will travel to Cairo for indirect talks with Hamas representatives. The last ceasefire ended on August 8, with both sides resuming hostilities almost immediately. Around 15 people in Gaza have died since the last breakdown and two Israelis have been injured.
Gaza is being systematically reduced to pulverised rubble. It is cut off by land and sea, has no port or airport, and all crossings into it are heavily interdicted by the Israelis. There is quite literally nowhere for the Gazans to run to even if they wanted to. Burying the dead has become problematic, morgue spaces are limited and dead babies are being kept in freezers, which previously held ice-cream. Damage to the infrastructure will take years to repair and around half a million Gazans have been forced from their homes, with 200,000 of them living in UN schools (sometimes targeted by Israel) and 60,000 people have had their homes completely destroyed.
As the Hamas factions battle Israel, they acknowledge that they are never going to defeat it, but they will fight until they are exhausted of rockets and people to fire them. The Israelis will continue to grind away with bombs and artillery, but will not invade Gaza, as their losses would be unacceptably high. The Cairo talks are being conducted at arm’s length, with neither side sitting across the table from the other. The Palestinian people want their land, the Israelis do not want them to have it and indirect talks are unlikely to shift either position. The guns, bombs and rockets are merely resting, not silenced.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2014.
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