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Mauricio Valentinoti Palacios S.

The illusion of a ceasefire in Gaza

- Decades after the settlement, no lasting peace has been achieved in the area.

The illusion of a ceasefire in Gaza

Behind the curtain generated in the media that portrays a battle between Israelis and Palestinians, hides one of humanity's longest-running conflicts. Simplifying centuries of ancient history, it is known that the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians was generated after the creation of the State of Israel. An apparent solution designed by the winning sides of the Second World War, who after the defeat of the Axis decided to offer a place to live to the millions of Jewish exiles, precisely in the promised land according to Judaism. Land that, at that time, was occupied by the Palestinian people, whose territory was a protectorate of the British crown. Movement that was not well received by the neighboring Arab nations and that unleashed a series of cruel wars in the region.

Decades after the settlement, no lasting peace has been achieved in the area. In May 2021, the escalation of violence escalated considerably. Images of the “iron dome” (an Israeli ballistic system that shoots down missiles before they hit the ground) blocking hundreds of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, made headlines. Without mentioning, of course, the series of images of the Israeli bombardments in Palestinian territory where Hamas operation centers, schools, hospitals and even journalistic agencies were destroyed.

However, the videos did not manage to portray all the victims. The Israeli victims of Hamas missiles did not occupy a distinguished space. Neither did the hundreds of Palestinian victims or the 72,000 displaced persons who were left homeless in a week (half of them being children) according to the UNHCR.

What the media did applaud was the arrival of a ceasefire, after almost three weeks of hostilities. Even the President of the United States, Joe Biden, congratulated the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for this decision. Unfortunately, this ceasefire does not mean that the conflict is over. Even sadder, there seems to be no political will for it to end. Contrary to this, the conflict serves interests of all kinds, both inside and outside the region. Except of course, to the interest of the victims to live in peace.

These interests emanate from multiple actors. Within the region, there is an interest on the part of Hamas to entrench its image as the legitimate government in Palestine and as a "protector" of Muslims. In reality, Hamas is a terrorist group (so designated by the European Union, the United States, Japan, Canada, Israel, among others). Declared as a jihadist organization, its objective is to establish a sovereign Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital city.

Hamas has been accused of committing war crimes, both against Israeli citizens and against Palestinians. Stories of torture, abuse and murder of citizens in Palestine that demand a competent authority and that truly watches over peace. A group that also, according to American versions, is financed by Iran to maintain a political enclave at the gates of Israel. Interestingly, people with great economic (and therefore political) influence in the group reside in Qatar. It is no coincidence that Israel has destroyed the office of Al Jazeera, a media outlet fully financed by the Qatari government, which hails from a nation where some of Hamas's top brass live.

The deplorable conditions in which the Palestinian people live are generated by the bad governance of the Hamas authority. However, even if said territory were governed by the most transparent and competent administration, this would not change things too much, since Israel's interests point to full adherence to the territory where Palestine remains. Even within the most conservative leadership of the party in power, there is talk of indoctrinating Muslims in these territories to facilitate their assimilation into Israel's predominantly Jewish society.

The Israeli government has been accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity against Palestinian protesters in and around its territory. Even making disproportionate use of force to respond to Hamas threats in Palestinian territory. The virulent Israeli campaign against the Palestinian people obeys the interest of the party in power to demonstrate its capacity for action to an Israeli society that is increasingly critical of its authority.

However, this strategy also obeys the interests of more powerful agents. Specifically from the United States, whose government, despite the change of administration from Trump to Biden, has not shown a clear political will to mediate and end the conflict. Both seem to show that for Washington, it is essential to maintain a conflictive state in the area. The then president, Donald Trump, sponsored the conclusion of the peace agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Despite the fact that the intention of these agreements was shown as an effort to promote peace in the region, critical voices within the American Union mention that these agreements were not created to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but to normalize the relationship between the government of Israel and two Arab nations. Since the latter would be important allies of the United States in a possible confrontation with Iran. It is no surprise that the current administration headed by Joe Biden has not yet appointed an American ambassador to Israel or a special envoy to mediate the crisis.

In addition to the obvious economic interests in the conflict, portrayed in the Washington agreement to sell shipments of American arms to Israel for more than 700 million dollars, it is clear that the conflict is no longer due solely to the patriotic interests of both countries. The scenario facilitates the obtaining of political capital for both protagonist sides.

The ceasefire is more inclined to be a media tool used by both the Netanyahu government and Hamas, which seek to become heroes of the conflict. On the one hand, the Israeli government portrays itself as a defender of the country and intends to demonstrate unparalleled power in the region by stopping more than 90% of the missiles sent into its territory. On the other hand, the Hamas government in Palestine portrays itself as a defender of violated Muslims and as a champion for the establishment of a Palestinian state, in the same way it intends to demonstrate a considerable capacity to carry out attacks that represent a serious threat to Israel.

Unfortunately, the least prevailing interests are those of civil society on both sides. Of the Palestinians tired of living in deplorable conditions in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Like Israelis, exhausted from living in a perpetual situation of conflict and violence. The ceasefire is far from representing a solution that will make peace last in a region plagued by ambition.

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Palacios, Mauricio. “La ilusión del Cese al Fuego en Gaza.” CEMERI, 25 jun. 2023,