GP Insights # 35, 12 May 2019
Gaza’s civil society is trickling back to normalcy after a cease-fire agreement brokered by Egypt and the United Nations was achieved between Gaza and Israel and came into effect on May 7. No Israeli air raids have been reported since the cease-fire on Palestinian territory. However, Israeli fire killed a Gazan in the Friday protests on 10 May.
What is the background?
The three-day escalation, the deadliest fighting between Israel and Palestinian factions since 2014 commenced on the May 4. The besieged enclave saw at least four Israelis and 25 Palestinians killed during the escalation. The escalation began when Gaza’s armed factions, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, fired hundreds of rockets at southern Israel’s settlements and civilian population following two separate incidents on May 3 that killed four Palestinians. Israel retaliated by pounding Gaza Strip with gunboat shooting, artillery-shelling, about 150 air raids and by targeting 200 civilian landmarks.
The Friday protests aka the weekly Great March of Return protests, which began on 30 March 2018, with the demand of right to return of Palestinian refugees to pre-1948 homes and full lifting of the 12-year Israeli blockade of Gaza had increased the tensions since it commences.
What does it mean?
As per officials, the truce agreement has to do with the easing of the Israeli blockade of Gaza Strip that has been under a deteriorating Egyptian-Israeli siege since 2008. Extending of fishing zone to 12 nautical miles off the Gaza coast, and improvements in the region’s energy, fuel and electricity situation have also said to be part of the cease-fire agreement.
However, the fragile truce was tested by the Friday protests on 11 May which resulted in the death of a Gazan. Israel’s arm-twisting is proof that Israel wants a cease-fire or peace deal on its own terms of peace or ‘calm’, and not with provisions for the Palestinians or on Gaza’s terms.
There is a call for a massive march on May 15 to mark the 71st anniversary of Nakba or “catastrophe”, the day in 1948, when Palestinians were forced to flee their homes in hundreds of thousands for the purpose of establishing the state of Israel. This in the current volatile situation may completely rupture the already fragile cease-fire between Palestinian factions and Israel.
Nevertheless, the absence of the United States from this cease-fire agreement is noteworthy. Is the US going to shelf Trump’s Middle East plan or is Washington giving up its mediator role? Time will tell