Cutting through the bullshit.

Sunday 18 January 2009

Some ceasefire!

The long awaited ceasefire has just come into effect. Reuters/AFP reports that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced, ‘At two o'clock in the morning we will stop fire…’

Welcome news indeed. ‘But,’ he went on, ‘we will continue to be deployed in Gaza and its surroundings’. Somehow, I don’t see all those soldiers doffing their Kevlar, putting on their tuxedos, and going out to enjoy the opera. They’ll still be swaggering around, fully armed, ensuring that whatever quiet may prevail, there will be no peace for the suffering Gazans. ‘…the Israeli army will regard itself as free to respond with force.’

Olmert nailed the real reason Israel has decided to stop shooting for the nonce, if that even happens. ‘We have reached all the goals of the war, and beyond.’ Clearly, they could never have considered a ceasefire while there remains any prospect of Palestinian self defence.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum pointed out, ‘A unilateral ceasefire does not mean ending the [Israeli] aggression and ending the siege…These constitute acts of war and so this will not mean an end to resistance…The Zionist enemy must stop all its aggression, completely withdraw from the Gaza Strip, lift the blockade, and open the crossings.’

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said, ‘This should be the first step leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza’. But, ‘Any durable solution must include the reopening of the [Gaza border] crossings and the prevention of illicit trafficking in arms’.

And that’s the main thing, ensuring that the Palestinians locked down within the tiny Gaza Strip have no means to defend themselves when Israel next decides to violate a ceasefire agreement. ‘Britain, France and Germany offered to join an international effort to prevent arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip.’ The reports don’t quote Olmert or anyone undertaking to lift the siege, nor an international effort to open the borders and keep them open.

The movement to end the carnage in Gaza has quite explicitly demanded withdrawal of invading forces and ending Israeli restrictions on movement in and out of Gaza. We’ve seen how Israel honours its agreements, including significantly, the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access. It’s crucial that we maintain the pressure until Gaza is free of the IOF and people and goods move freely. At least.

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