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Friday, 1 August 2014

The ceasefire that never was.

Heavy Israeli shelling in Rafah in southern Gaza has killed at least 40 Palestinians



Israeli tanks opened fire in the southern Rafah area

At 8 AM local time this morning, the ceasefire brokered by John Kerry, Bank-in Moon, and the United Nations representative in Tel Aviv, came into effect. Some three hours later, the ceasefire, heralded to last for 72 hours, broke down with Israeli artillery and tank fire continuing the destruction of suburbs in Gaza, and in those three hours killing more than 40 Palestinian civilians.

The world should not be surprised that this ceasefire arrangement heralded on the television media around the world only yesterday afternoon should be shattered so quickly after its introduction. The ceasefire arrangements provided for Israeli soldiers to remain within Gaza and to continue their program of destroying so-called terror tunnels without any firm assurances from the Israelis to allow food water blankets and other humanitarian aid into the besieged population. It is inconceivable although not unprecedented that ceasefire arrangement brokered by the Americans have always been favourable to the Israelis regardless of what aggression and other atrocities they have carried out in the intervening period. It is no wonder that Palestinians who have been endured three weeks of endless bombardment causing the death of more than 1000 civilians and serious injury, should feel again, betrayed by the Western governments who have consistently taken the side of the Israelis in any previous conflict. Even as the ceasefire arrangements were being negotiated between the Americans United Nations and the Egyptians, the United States announced that it was providing an additional £400 million worth of arms and equipment to ensure and for their part, the Israeli government announced that it was calling up an additional 16,000 reservist troops, bringing their total number of Army personnel to somewhere in excess of 86,000.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel

The Egyptian government of al-Sisi, had agreed to host negotiations in Cairo between the Palestinians and Israelis, to commence immediately. However, al-Sisi who seized power in Egypt's two years ago, in a coup organised to overthrow Muhammed Morsi, with covert assistance of both Israel and America, can never now be expected to be an honest broker in any negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Egypt has sealed all the borders of Gaza, effectively becoming an ally of Israel in enforcing the blockade. Humanitarian aid convoys carrying food, blankets water and other essential supplies to the people of Gaza are still prevented from crossing the border by Egyptian army personnel. It is difficult at this time to see any party which might be considered as an honest broker in any arrangement or discussions which might lead to a settlement of this problem.

Al-Sisi. A less than "Honest Broker"

Naturally, as news of the breakdown appeared on the wires of Reuters and the Associated Press, BBC News and Sky News, began carrying stories of the renewed fighting and the death of another 40 civilians. It is frustrating and annoying how the two main news sources on television in this country, can carry news items with such bias and one-sided coverage is BBC and Sky manage to achieve. Only on Al Jazeera it seems can we expect a balanced view of what is actually taking place from reporters and correspondents in the affected areas. Only last week I commented on how Martine Croxall demonstrated pro-Israeli bias in both her reporting and questioning of people in the studio. Today, Sophie Long on BBC News 24, and Samantha Simonds on sky News, lost little time in heaping blame for the breakdown of the current ceasefire, squarely on the shoulders of mass and the Palestinians. In addition there are interviewing techniques for spokesperson which vary, depending on the person being interviewed. All too frequently Palestinians or representatives supporting the Palestinian cause are often interrupted or almost shouted down. The BBC and Sky do a gross disservice to the cause of journalism by behaving in this fashion and endorsing their presenters in this one-sided coverage.

Samantha Simmonds Sky News
Sophie Long BBC News 24

As the fighting continues it is difficult to see how any ceasefire or truce, can be brought about with you intransigent position of Tel Aviv, where at yesterday's news conference Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that there would be no ceasefire until all the tunnels had been destroyed, the Rockets had “stopped raining down on Israeli cities”, and that Hamass and the Palestinians had been disarmed with Gaza demilitarised. Under these circumstances than one can hardly criticise the Palestinian people for fighting on. With so many civilian deaths over the past three weeks, any capitulation to Israeli or American pressure, would be an insult to all those killed. They can only ever be one just solution to this problem. The nine year long blockade of Gaza must be lifted and the continuing occupation of Palestinian lands must end. No other solution could bring about an end to hostilities without these two fundamental points being included. In the meantime Israeli aggression will continue until the Western governments understand, as many of their peoples understand, that the excess is of the Israelis are unacceptable and that now the world will not tolerate indiscriminate killing of civilians women and children by a power intent on annexing vast sections of the Middle East.