We can expect a ceasefire in Gaza in the next ‘several days’. In an interview with Karan Thapar on The Wire, Dr. Musa Abu Marzouq, the head of international relations of Hamas, speaking from Doha, disclosed that there could be a ceasefire for 5 days accompanied with an an exchange of hostages between Hamas and Israel.
It was followed by a report in Washington Post that Israel is considering stopping its assault on Gaza for 5 days. As part of the deal, Hamas will probably release 50 Israelis who were taken hostage by its fighters in their attack October 7 attack and it is possible that Israel may release some Palestinians in its prisons. It was not clear from the Washington Post report whether Israel is ready to release some of the Palestinians – held in its prisons for years – in exchange for these hostages which include 147 children. If the condition of Hamas is fulfilled, the ill-fated Palestinians held illegally by Israel can feel liberty.
We must note that the very world which is demanding the release of the Israeli hostages never felt it necessary to ask Israel to release the Palestinians it keeps capturing and imprisoning frequently.
It is also an interesting irony that the Palestinians in Israeli jails are considered arrests and legal in a way, but the Israelis who are in the custody of Hamas are called hostages, which has no legal sanction. That is why the whole world is against Hamas. It considers this act unacceptable but thinks Israel has a right to arrest Palestinians. So there is international pressure for the release of Israelis but the freedom of Palestinian prisoners is not an issue for the international community. They are destined to languish in the Israeli jails, unheard and unseen.
Only Hamas is raising its voice for their release. But its words are considered offensive since it has been declared a terrorist organisation by the international community. But if no one else speaks for the Palestinians, then should the Palestinians not listen to Hamas just because it has been declared ‘terrorist’ by the powerful of the world?
It is not yet clear whether the Palestinians will be released or not. Then why is Hamas ready for this ceasefire? Because it is important for the people of Gaza to survive. It is necessary for them to get water, electricity, gas, and access to internet. It is necessary to treat the injured Palestinians left behind among the 13,000 that are dead. It is important for people to get food and water. Every minute of absence of firing or bombing means a life saved, a limb still attached to the body it belongs to.
And the governments of the power wielding world would not allow it as they have closed ranks behind Israel.
The allegation against Hamas is that it was not concerned about the well-being of the people of Gaza. Why else would it have attacked Israel on October 7? Did it not know how Israel would react? I found this question very interesting. Implicit in this question is the assumption that Israel is a bully and you should not do anything even if it is beating you daily, looting your houses and land. And that you do not expect a measured response from it to any crisis. That it would indiscriminately wreak vengeance on everyone it thinks Hamas represents.
But now if Hamas is ready to go the extra mile to stop the violence, then the reason behind this decision is its concern for the people of Gaza.
Till just a day ago, not only Israel, but also the governments of its patron states like the US, England, Canada and Germany were not in favour of stopping violence against the people of Gaza. Why are they now eager for it? They were after all not averse to killing children, attacking hospitals and UN facilities, destroying Gaza. Remember US President Joe Biden’s callous response to the question about ceasefire? He had smugly responded : ‘No. Not possible.’ So what has changed?
If this decision of ceasefire is taken, then its credit belongs to the American and European youth that has not left the streets since the Israeli attack and have continued to put pressure on their governments to ask Israel to go for a ceasefire. Lakhs of youngsters – in London, New York, Toronto and Berlin, and scores of other big and small cities across the US and other wester countries – carrying Palestinian flags, have been demonstrating against the Israeli attack. They are blocking railway stations, bridges, and intersections. Protesters took over the stage of a Democratic Party convention in the USA. They are protesting against their Democrat delegates for not advocating for a ceasefire. Same is the situation in England where the voters of the liberal Labour Party are protesting against their representatives.
This worldwide revolt of the people, especially the young, against their governments is responsible for this move towards a ceasefire.
The government in the US, which is working under the pressure of the Israeli lobby, is becoming more and more unpopular by each passing day because of its support for Israel’s genocidal violence. Public opinion is growing against Biden, who is seeking re-election in the next presidential election.
With international public opinion being in favour of justice for Palestine, it is now becoming increasingly difficult for Israel to continue its killing spree. Thousands of people in Israel itself are protesting against the government. Jews and Arabs together. A long march has just reached Jerusalem. Many Israeli women are saying that the Israeli government does not care about the Israelis arrested by Hamas. The indiscriminate bombing of Gaza could put the hostages at risk, but the government is not even thinking about it.
The Israeli government and Netanyahu are rapidly losing public support within their country. Netanyahu also understands that the wave of sympathy that had arisen in favor of Israel after the Hamas attack of October 7, is now turning against it after its brutal bombing of Gaza and its sadistic destruction for the last 44 days. The images of murdered, limbless children, of little bodies packed in body bags, arouse repulsion, hatred, and anger against Israel. Netanyahu, who till a day ago had balked at any proposal for a ceasefire is now under tremendous pressure from his patron governments as they fear that any delay will turn world opinion against them and Israel. But the reality is that the tide has already turned against them.
It is impossible for the world to remain silent on Israel’s violence after watching Gaza turning into rubble, children being shot directly, hospitals being bombed and ICU patients dying on TV. The world is speaking. As days pass, it is becoming clear that Israel’s intention is not to teach a lesson to Hamas but that it wants completely cleanse Gaza of Palestinians and capture it. This is an expansionist war.
It is now becoming impossible even for Israel’s supporters to justify the destruction of the al-Shifa hospital by Israel. Israel has not yet been able to prove its claim that the hospital was the command and control centre of Hamas. The video evidence it has released to prove its claim is not trusted even by the media platforms sympathetic to it, such as BBC and New York Times or CNN. Even they are not able to digest the laughable, edited videos presented to them by Israel. They have been forced to say that till now Israel has not been able to present solid evidence that the hospital was being used by Hamas. Yet it has turned the hospital into debris. Not only al-Shifa, it has destroyed other hospitals as well. As I write this, the news is that Israel has bombed UN-run schools and killed more than 200 people.
After repeatedly saying that it is searching for Hamas which is hiding among the civilians in northern Gaza and hence it has no choice but to kill them all, Israel is now saying that Hamas is in southern Gaza. Earlier Israel was asking Palestinians to move to South Gaza for safety. Now it is taking them to vacate it. Then where should the people of Gaza go?
In response, Israel shamelessly says that it is not its problem. It just wants Gaza to turn into a parking lot free of its people. The way it is planting its flag on hospitals and cemeteries, and flattened land, on the hillocks of rubble and ruins of Gaza, it is clear that it only wants to expand its territory. After watching all this, how can one continue its support to Israel?
A large number of Jews have joined protests against the violence of Israel. Their visible presence makes it difficult to dismiss all opposition by calling it anti-semitic. People hear the Israeli ministers and leaders when they say that they want all the Palestinians to be driven out of Gaza and not to return even after the war. Its leaders shamelessly ask as to why other countries cannot absorb them. The people of the world understand well the evil intent of Israel to eliminate Palestinians and have risen against it and their governments for their heartless support to the criminal Israel.
So it is neither the humanity of Biden or other prime ministers of the west, nor the kindness of Netanyahu that they are thinking of stopping the violence for five days.This is a desperate attempt to save ground for Israel.
Whatever be the reason, it is necessary to stop Israeli violence as soon as possible. Why this is important can be understood today by reading a post by a Palestinian: ’36 people from my family were killed yesterday. If the war had stopped yesterday, they would have been alive.’ This is the story of every family in Gaza. One in every 200 people has been killed. Every minute someone is being killed. A child is being murdered every 10 minutes. It is difficult to carry on the business of the world with the burden of this genocide.