by Julie Webb-Pullman
Source: Middle East Monitor
The cynical ‘ceasefire’ chorus being sung by Israel and Egypt is merely yet another movement in the well-orchestrated Israeli-Egyptian three-penny opera.
The way in which the ‘negotiations’ were carried out was more farce than finale – Egypt wrote the libretto for the Israeli impresario, leaving the Palestinians in the wings.
The terms themselves are a three-act charade. The Israeli-Egyptian duet omits a core Hamas demand – any mention of the release of more than 50 Palestinian prisoners released in the 2011 Shalit swap who were re-detained during the recent West Bank ‘search’ for three missing Israeli settlers.
Nor does it commit to either re-open the Rafah Crossing between Gaza and Egypt, or to lift the crippling – and illegal – Israeli siege of Gaza, merely saying that “crossings shall be opened and the movement of persons and goods through (them) shall be facilitated once the security situation becomes stable on the ground.” Both of these are core demands of the entire Palestinian resistance – Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP and everyone in between.
Any ceasefire that does not change the fundamental paradigm, a hermetically-sealed Gaza and a ‘normal Israel,’ will garner only encore after encore, as every previous performance has done. Read more HERE
First Published in Middle East Eye
Although not an official actor in the process, Islamic Jihad’s backing of the Palestine reconciliation deal is seen as important for its survival.
As a non-member of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), Palestinian resistance movement Islamic Jihad was not privy to the negotiations between the PLO and Hamas that resulted in Wednesday’s agreement to end the seven-year Fatah-Hamas split.
But as one of Palestine’s most important factions, they are crucial to the success of any deal and say they have considerable interest in participating and helping to build the future of the country. (more…)
by Julie Webb-Pullman
A national unity government. Elections. A new-look PLO. Community reconciliation. Big hopes, even bigger expectations as representatives of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Hamas came to an agreement in Gaza today to form a national unity government and hold elections.
Much had been made of the so-called Palestinian political division, but how accurately does it describe the situation on the ground?
According to Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum, the division was not caused by Fatah and Hamas.(more…)
In the last hour, Israeli warplanes targeted the following sites in the Gaza Strip:
– The military Site “Abu Atayah” of Nasser Saladin Brigades, west of Rafah.
– The military Site “Saad Sayel” of Qassam Brigades east of Rafah.
– A piece of agricultural land near the site of “Safina” northwest of Gaza City.
No injuries have been reported as a result of the attacks.
In response, Palestinian resistance have launched new rocket attacks, and Israeli planes are flying west of Gaza.
The escalation of hostilities in the past few days was set off by an Israeli airstrike which killed three members of islamic Jihad on Tuesday. Ismail Abu Judah, 23, Shahir Abu Shanab, 24, and 33-year-old Abd al-Shafi Muammar were all killed in southeast Khan Younis near the Sufa crossing.
Khaled al-Batch, an Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza, last night announced they had agreed to restore the calm, but the truce was shortlived, perhaps because of the way it was negotiated.
Ma’an reported that an Egyptian official speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed that Egyptian national security services contacted Israel and the Islamic Jihad, but not Hamas, in order to negotiate the re-activation of the 2012 ceasefire.
al-Batch told Associated Press, “As long as the occupation [Israel] honors the calm, we will honor the calm and instructions are being given right now to al-Quds brigades, our military wing, about this understanding.”
Hamas leader Ghazi Hamad told al-Mayadeen channel that the group was “not informed by Egypt about any agreement, and the Egyptian side should have coordinated with Hamas.”
Other signs that hostilities are likely to continue are that on Thursday, Israeli armed forces called up its air force reserves, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
The Israeli Cabinet met on Thursday morning to dicsuss the situation in Gaza, and the decision to call the reserves was made by Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya’alon. Haaretz noted that calling up reserves requires the approval of the Knesset security and foreign committee, and a waiting period of 48 hours.
Only one thing is certain – as long as Israel coninues to occupy Palestinian territory, as long as Israel and Egypt continue their siege of the Gaza Strip, and as long as the international community continues to ignore Israel’s gross breaches of international law and the impending humanitarian crisis in Gaza, peace will be but a dream.
Israeli military forces this morning shot and killed a Palestinian civilian in the Northern Gaza Strip. Bilal Owaida, 20 years old, was walking with friends in land close to the buffer zone near Jabalia camp when Israeli forces opened fire on them, killing him and injuring three others.
There is widespread belief that Israel is trying to provoke an escalation, having killed five Palestinians and wounded 23 already this month, including members of the Al Quds Brigades and Islamic Jihad, as well as civilians.
Coupled with the US State Department’s announcement of the addition of Islamic Jihad’s Deputy Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhalah to the list of “terrorist organizations and individuals” there is concern that the US has given Israel political and legal cover to target leaders of the Palestinian resistance.
The spokesman for Islamic Jihad, Daoud Shihab, told AlMonitor on Thursday that his movement was not responsible for the recent escalation.
“We in Islamic Jihad hold Israel responsible, because it wants to evade the understandings of the truce and is once again resorting to assassinations,” he said. “There has been no military response from the Al-Quds Brigades. Israel’s allegations are false and are aimed at harming the resistance factions.”
Shihab said there is a consensus among the resistance factions to commit to the truce, despite the large number of violations and attacks carried out by Israel.
“If Islamic Jihad was behind the rocket launches [last week], we would have announced that very clearly,” Shihab said. “We will not escalate or initiate anything that breaks the agreement.”
Israel appears to have no such qualms. Not satisfied with making deposits in the “bank” of resistance leader targets that it wants to liquidate, it has increasingly taken to the withdrawal of civilians, as today’s death shows.