Hours after a ceasefire was called between Israel and Hamas on the 21st of May, Israeli police forces attacked Palestinians gathered around the Al-Aqsa mosque, one of the most prominent holy sites in the old city of Jerusalem.
The ceasefire, a short interval at the height of the conflict, was agreed to by both sides at 2:00 am local time after Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his approval of Egypt’s ceasefire proposal. This proposal, presented at the United Nations General Assembly, was enacted by Israel as a way to end the violence and defeat Hamas (the Islamic resistance movement) swiftly. In the brief moments of calm after the ceasefire, a BBC reporter on the ground in Gaza reported signs of Israeli military drones hovering overhead, monitoring a portion of self-governing Palestinian territory. As the drone patrolled, the Tzahal (Israel Defence Force) began to perform maintenance on one of their air defence systems, the Iron Dome. Even before the ceasefire began, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz was clear that the ceasefire did not indicate an end to the conflict as top leaders of the Palestinian nationalist organization, Hamas, remained a target.
On the 22nd of May, a mere day after the ceasefire agreement was broken, the United Nations Security Council released a press statement calling for a full adherence to the ceasefire, stating, “The members of the Security Council stressed the urgency of the restoration of calm in full and reiterated the importance of achieving a comprehensive peace based on the vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace with secure and recognized borders.” This statement was criticized by the Israel Foreign Ministry for not condemning Hamas which they view as a militant terrorist group.
Footage depicting Israeli forces breaking the ceasefire showed police firing stun grenades toward gathered Palestinians. This footage spread quickly and was featured on mass media outlets despite individuals in the dispersing crowd who were holding cameras being targeted by swarming police. Throughout the conflict, Israeli police stormed the streets and separated groups of Palestinians standing together and have entered Palestinian homes to break up parties and celebrations where large groups might have gathered. The lack of adherence to the ceasefire shows the importance for International Committees to place pressure on Israel and Palestine to open channels of communication and fully commit to a total ceasefire. The power imbalance between the two sides and the long history behind the conflict prevents conclusive peace talks from taking place. International pressure for a ceasefire would be strengthened by the United States, an ally of Israel’s no longer implicitly encouraging a ceasefire but explicitly calling for one. International pressure has resulted in a longer ceasefire between Israel and Palestine in the past, in order for permanent de-escalation to occur, urgent international calls for a ceasefire and an end to the airstrikes need to be made.