Tonight’s news that Israel & Hamas have agreed a long-term ceasefire is welcome and I hope with all my heart that this time it hold and that the people of Gaza and southern Israel can look forward to at least a long term period of calm and peace so that they can begin to start rebuilding their lives after more than 7 week of rockets, bombing & fighting.
Now that the guns are falling silent, perhaps it is time to look to see who has won the most from the fighting and who has lost the most.
Sadly for all those who want see peaceful co-existence between Israel & Palestine, the winners seem to Hamas and the other extremists in Gaza.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all in favour of lifting the restrictions on goods going in and out of Gaza and also letting the residents of Gaza travel outside the small sliver of land they have been trapped in. My problem is that by allowing Hamas to claim victory in achieving this, Israel has legitimised the use of violence from Hamas. While there will now be a period of calm, I fully expect Hamas to use this period to rearm and regroup.
From what I have read so far, there does not seem to be any independent force put in place to make sure that none of the much needed materials being letting for reconstruction are not diverted into rebuilding the tunnels & other Hamas infrastructure or to make sure that Hamas will not smuggle in more weapons & arms to prepare for their next offensive against Israel.
Israelis now need to ask themselves whether the entirely avoidable fighting this summer has been worth it. Have Netanyahu, Lieberman & Bennett made Israel more secure & stronger or have they weakened Israel and left its standing in the world at an all-time low? I wrote in July, at the start of the conflict, that the Israeli Government was wrong to allow itself to be pulled in to another round of fighting in Gaza (Is the Government of Israel insane?), it pains me to see that the outcome I predicted has happened.
As a British Israeli living in the UK, I can see how much the hatred of Israel has grown and that fewer people are willing to defend Israel, not just in its actions in Gaza which few can defend but its right even to exist. By refusing to engage with President Abbas & the moderates in the Palestinian National Authority at the end of the Kerry Peace Initiative, the current Netanyahu Government have missed an opportunity to isolate and defeat Hamas and has now been forced to accept an agreement that does not give the residents of Southern Israel real long term security.
Because of the ceasefire agreement put in place, I fear that it will not be long there will be yet another round of the conflict will be sparked. Both Israel & Hamas will accuse the other of acting in bad faith. Israel will be loath to allow some of the developments needed for the reconstruction of Gaza and Hamas will try to use the relaxation on the blockade to smuggle in weapons & military material. Both will use these as a pretext to either re-impose the blockade or to restart firing rockets and before long we will be back at square 1.
I wish I could be more cheerful and hopeful for the future but until the leaders on both sides start to put the long term benefit of their citizens before their short term political needs, there will be no long term solution to bring peace & security to both the long suffering people of Gaza or the the people of Southern Israel.