Gush Shalom: Israel broke Gaza ceasefire

A statement from Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc, via the independent Palestinian Ma’an News Agency, Dec. 27:

Bloodshed and suffering on both sides of the border could have been avoided.

It is possible to return immediately to the ceasefire, make it stronger and firmer.

The war in Gaza, the bloodshed, killing, destruction and suffering on both sides of the border are the vicious folly of a bankrupt government. A government which let itself be dragged by adventurous officers and cheap nationalist demagoguery, into a destructive and unnecessary war which will bring no solution to any problem – neither to the communities of southern Israel under the rain of missiles nor to the terrible poverty and suffering of besieged Gaza.

On the day after the war the same problems will remain; with the addition of many bereaved families, wounded people crippled for life, and piles of rubble and destruction.

The escalation towards war could and should have been avoided. It was the State of Israel which broke the truce, in the ‘ticking tunnel’ raid on the night of the US elections two months ago. Since then the army went on stoking the fires of escalation with calculated raids and killings, whenever the shooting of missiles on Israel decreased.

The cycle of bloodshed could and should be broken. The ceasefire can be restored immediately, and on firmer foundations. It is the right of Israel to demand a complete end to shooting on its territory and citizens – but it must stop all attacks from its side, end completely the siege and starvation of Gaza’s million and half inhabitants, and stop interfering with the Palestinians’ right to choose their own leaders.

Ehud Barak’s declaration that he is stopping the elections campaign in order to concentrate on the Gaza offensive is a joke. The war in Gaza is itself Barak’s elections campaign, a cynical attempt to buy votes with the blood and suffering in Netivot and Sderot, Gaza and Beit Hanun. Also so-called peace seekers such as Amos Oz — who give this offensive their support and encouragement — could not afterwards shrug off responsibility.

Emphasis added. Unlike the Hamas rocket attacks it sparked, the so-called “ticking tunnel” raid did not make world headlines. It was noted at the time (Nov. 5) by Israel’s YNet:

IDF leaves Gaza after op, 6 gunmen killed
IDF troops have completed their operation in the Gaza Strip, and are currently preparing to leave the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory. Two soldiers were moderately wounded and four others sustained light injuries from a mortar shell, they were evacuated to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba for treatment.

For the first time since the ceasefire took effect in June, IDF forces operated deep in the Gaza Strip Tuesday night in a bid to collapse a tunnel located 250 meters (273 yards) from the border – and which terror groups intended to use for kidnapping Israeli soldiers.

Palestinian sources reported that six gunmen were killed in the clashes that ensued during the operation, and that several others, including a female bystander were injured.

The force arrived at a structure near the al-Bureij refugee camp which the tunnel had been dug in adjacent to. Palestinian gunmen were alerted to the soldiers’ presence and when they arrived at the scene a fierce gunbattle ensued. Shortly afterwards a loud explosion occurred, which toppled the structure.

The army said the intensity of the blast was due to the large amount of explosives stored in the building, adding that the building was probably booby-trapped ahead of time, in order to prevent the force from entering it. No casualties were reported among IDF troops.

‘IDF committed maintaining ceasefire’
Six mortar shells were fired at the troops during the operation, all landing in open areas near the Kissufim border crossing. No injuries or damage were reported.

The Air Force launched two separate strikes on cells launching mortar shells, killing at least five Hamas gunmen.

Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades’ spokesman, Abu Obeid, said Tuesday that Hamas “will fight off any Israeli operation,” adding the organization will retaliate on the operation. Security officers at the Gaza vicinity communities were subsequently warned of possible rocket attacks on the western Negev region.

IDF sources said that the operation was “an innately defensive one and not an offensive one; but we have rescue teams on standby, ready for any possible scenario.”

A senior military source called the incident “a ticking tunnel,” adding that “this is a pinpoint operation. Once we are done, the forces will leave Gaza.”

See our last post on Gaza

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  1. Who Broke the Cease Fire?
    I find it disturbingly hypocritical that although Hamas continued firing (over 20) rockets into southern israel between June and October, you would like us to believe that its Israel that broke the truce. Be serious.

    1. Israel broke the ceasefire
      George E. Bisharat wrote in the Wall Street Journal, Jan. 10:

      Israel had not suffered an “armed attack” immediately prior to its bombardment of the Gaza Strip… [O]n June 19, 2008, Hamas and Israel commenced a six-month truce. Neither side complied perfectly. Israel refused to substantially ease the suffocating siege of Gaza imposed in June 2007. Hamas permitted sporadic rocket fire — typically after Israel killed or seized Hamas members in the West Bank, where the truce did not apply. Either one or no Israelis were killed (reports differ) by rockets in the half year leading up to the current attack.

      Israel then broke the truce on Nov. 4, raiding the Gaza Strip and killing a Palestinian. Hamas retaliated with rocket fire; Israel then killed five more Palestinians. In the following days, Hamas continued rocket fire — yet still no Israelis died. Israel cannot claim self-defense against this escalation, because it was provoked by Israel’s own violation.