A tentative “truce” was announced this week between Israel and Palestinian resistance movements. Israel’s attacks for several weeks have claimed the lives of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including 490 children. More than one-quarter of the population remains displaced from their homes, unable to return due to the massive bombardment of entire neighbourhoods. Thousands of homes have been reduced to rubble and the sole power plant in Gaza is nearly beyond repair. While children around the world head back to school, 500,000 Palestinian children remain unable to do so owing to the incessant bombing of their schools and the transformation of their schools into shelters for hundreds of thousands of displaced people.
While the details of this ceasefire are not fully known, what is clear is that the international community has, once again, failed Palestinians. During the assault, the UN Security Council Resolution was unable to pass a resolution stopping Israel’s military attacks, despite the fact that United Nations facilities have not been immune from Israeli bombs.
But the international community’s failure does not stop there. Similar to its hands-off approach adopted more than 20 years ago, with the failed Oslo Accords, the global community has effectively forced Palestinians, once again, to negotiate with their occupier and oppressor with little or no assistance from the wider world. The most noteworthy results of these negotiations have been the tripling of the number of illegal Jewish colonists in the West Bank, the confiscation of thousands of acres of Palestinian land and the destruction of thousands of Palestinian homes destroyed and a worsening and, now dependent, Palestinian economy. The international community was nowhere to be seen. Gone was any reference to international law and the illegality of Israel’s colonisation. Absent was any understanding that an occupied people simply cannot negotiate with their occupier. The international community failed to hold Israel accountable when Israel, year after year, defied and continues to defy international law by continuing to build and expand Israeli colonies.
Rather than learn from these mistakes and impose sanctions on Israel for continuing to violate Palestinian rights, the international community has, once again, forced Palestinians to negotiate for their most basic human rights. Palestinians simply asked for the Gaza Strip to no longer be under Israel’s military thumb — to be able to live free from an Israeli blockade, to be able to access the sea, to import and export by land, sea and air, to leave and enter the Gaza Strip and to connect with the West Bank.
And, while a ceasefire arrangement is in place, the underlying causes for the lack of stability have not been addressed: Namely, Israel’s illegal military blockade and denial of freedom to Palestinians. Moreover, this agreement lacks any international monitors to ensure compliance with what was agreed to. In short, owing to the failure of the world community, Israel will continue to maintain an illegal blockade over the Gaza Strip and will continue to colonise the West Bank while the world idly watches.
The international community knows full well that the Gaza Strip cannot be sustained as an open-air prison. Even before these latest assaults, the UN had warned that the Gaza Strip would become unlivable by the year 2020, owing to Israel’s military blockade, the small size of Gaza as compared to its population and the degraded water supply and woefully dilapidated infrastructure. In the face of these realities, one would expect that the international community would work to ensure that Israel’s illegal blockade is lifted; a blockade that the UN has repeatedly condemned for the last seven years. One would have expected that the international community would wake up and demand that Israel end its brutal military occupation and finally allow Palestinians to live freely.
One would have expected the international community to ostracize Israel for its brutality. Instead, the international community has once again sent Palestinians the message that they are on their own, that the international community will never assist Palestinians in achieving their rights and that Israel will never be held accountable for defying international law. The international community should therefore no longer be surprised when Israel once again bombs the Gaza Strip — as it has already said it will do. The international community must now realise that, in the face of its abject failures, the blockade and bombing of Gaza will never lead to the “elimination” of Hamas and the Palestinian resistance movement. Indeed, it will only serve to strengthen their resolve.
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