The ink was barely dry on the ceasefire document Israel signed, before it had already violated the terms by killing a 20 year old Gazan farmer and wounding ten others who’d dared to take seriously the terms of the agreement. It allowed them free movement in formerly no-go border zones which Israel had established unilaterally.
Hundreds of Gazans were strolling through buffer zones which had formerly been their own farmland before Israel had peremptorily declared it an off-limits border zone. They did this based on this clause in the ceasefire:
Opening the crossings and facilitating the movements of people and transfer of goods and refraining from restricting residents’ free movements and targeting residents in border areas and procedures of implementation shall be dealt with after 24 hours from the start of the ceasefire.
The NY Times dutifully reports claims by Israel that the Gazans were entering Israeli territory, which Jodi Rudoren confirmed with an anonymous Hamas police officer. However, she also tellingly notes that the fence in the area where the Palestinians allegedly trespassed had been knocked down, indicating that the border was not clearly marked. Whatever the facts, these individuals were unarmed civilians who posed no threat to the Israeli soldiers who murdered them. I call this murder because there was a ceasefire in effect, the document governing the ceasefire permitted them to be there, the victims were unarmed, and killing civilians under such circumstances is a violation of the Geneva Convention. Hence, murder.
We can dispense with the lies of the IDF spokesflack that soldiers shot at the feet of the “intruders.” The victim was shot in the head according to Israeli Channel 2 news. These are professional sharpshooters who can kill a man a mile away with pinpoint accuracy. They don’t aim for someone’s feet and kill him in error.
Rudoren confirms Israel’s utter disdain for the very document it signed:
Ehud Barak, said dismissively that Hamas’s main achievement so far was getting a document that was typed rather than handwritten.
Though the document calls for a meeting that should’ve happened yesterday (within 24 hours of the start of the ceasefire) to negotiate opening the borders and ending the siege, here is Israel’s understanding of what it agreed to:
Israeli officials say nothing has been agreed upon beyond the immediate cessation of hostilities. …They agreed to discuss the border and other issues, but that those talks had not yet begun — and there did not appear even to be a mechanism in place for starting.
Rudoren of course doesn’t note that the wording of the ceasefire is clear and that Israel is in violation of it. That would be too uncomfortably partisan (or truthful) for her. The truth of the matter is that Israel is in a sour mood. Residents of the south are livid at the government’s backing down at the vital moment when it should’ve gone in and wiped our Hamas (in their view). Soldiers feel the same way and posted an image that went viral of them posing their bodies in the shape of Hebrew letters spelling “Bibi Loser.” The celebrations of Gazans at the end of the ceasefire have made Israelis feel they lost face in the deal. And “face,” despite what you may believe about Israel being a western democratic nation, is terribly important for them.
So Israel returns to a Gaza policy characterized by sullen brutalism in which the bodies of civilians are stacked like cord wood (“[Israeli] security forces killed 213 Palestinians near the fence between September 2005 and September 2012, including 154 who were not taking part in hostilities, 17 of them children”) on the altar of rejectionism. All await the next war.
The question now is whether Bibi will pivot toward Iran after collecting his scalps in Gaza. The NY Times published a piece comparing the Gaza fighting to the Spanish Civil War in terms of how the Nazis used it to test new weapons they would later use during World War II. The parallel is that Israel tested its anti-missile defense against Iran’s rocket technology in preparation for a looming battle between the two.
The major deficiency in the comparison is that the Fajr 5 Iranian missiles Hamas launched at Israel are extremely short-range (40 miles). Iran has two other longer range missiles that would pose far greater dangers to Israel and be far more complex to defend against. In fact, Israel has no current anti-missile defense against medium-range Iranian missiles (though it’s developing David’s Sling for that purpose). The Arrow system is designed to defend against Iran’s long-range missiles, but it is largely untested in battle condition. I’m not saying that this means it won’t be successful, just that it’s an unknown quantity.
I can’t think of any more moving and profound visual image to convey all this than Iranian dissident artist, Maya Neyestani’s brilliant cartoon.