The Troubling Trend Of Escalation And Cease-Fire In Gaza

On Saturday, 21 July, a deal was reached between Hamas and Israel bringing with it another reprieve for the troubled Gaza Strip. The deal was brokered by Egyptian and United Nations officials after an Israeli Soldiers fired live ammunition and tear gas towards Palestinian protesters on Friday. Over 120 people were injured, with the latest fatality in the ongoing protest being 27-year-old Mohammad Sharif Badwan. The protests within the Gaza strip have been ongoing every Friday since March 30 as Palestinians speak out against their inability to return to their former homes, which are still under the jurisdiction of Israel. This protest is not the first to end in violence. What is more troubling, however, is the fact that many are already voicing concerns that the violence will likely recommence soon and the peace is temporary.

The fact that so many are aware of the temporary nature of the reprieve indicates that there needs to be more done to try to create dialogue or compromise between the protesters and the Israeli government in relation to the Gaza Strip and Israel’s blockade. Due to the current ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel, influenced by the shared history of the actors involved in the region. This is in addition to the human rights issues that have resulted from the blockade that has drawn ire due to its violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention: which prevents collective punishment. The fact that everyone is aware of the temporary nature of the truce indicates the necessity to try for a different solution, due to the temporary nature of the ceasefire and the need for something that can bring about more permanent stability.

There have already been expert calls that claim that the patterns of past behaviour indicate that the current ceasefire is likely only to be temporary. The most troubling one was posited by Al-Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker who stated that “The pattern of escalation-ceasefire, escalation-ceasefire between Israel and Hamas will continue to go on unless there is a long-term solution to alleviate the situation for the people here.” Her claims were corroborated by Usama Antar, a political analyst current within Gaza city. “Unfortunately we will have a couple of days of calm, and after that, we will have the same situation because the many problems of the people in the Gaza Strip are still not solved.” Both statements indicate that many are aware of how dour the circumstances have become and that things are unlikely to change in the near future unless a change in approach is broached.

The turmoil over the Gaza strip is something that is unlikely to be permanently quelled if current trends persist. The constant call for cease-fire’s, followed by an escalation of hostility again, is a sign that the current approach has done little more than stall the continued conflict between both factions. All actors need to decide and agree on the best approach for the future of the area, even if such a future will require compromise from all of them to achieve. Egypt and the United Nations could potentially aid in bringing the actors to the table as they have in the past and helping them to negotiate, or at least give the opportunity for open dialogue between actors.

Joshua Robinson