As the conflict in Gaza approaches all-out war and civilian casualties increase daily, another cease fire agreement was announced today by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The agreement was brokered between Clinton, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and his Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, Hamas leaders, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The cease fire started at 9 p.m. Cairo time (1 p.m. CST).
Since late October, this is third cease fire and/or truce agreement between Hamas and Israel, two of which have not held.
While it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when and by whom the initial escalation began, there were two periods of relative calm as truces were brokered between Israel and Hamas by Egypt’s President Morsi. In both instances, Israel was the first to break that truce.
The U.S. media sticks to the story line that Israel’s attacks on Gaza are a response to rocket fire from Hamas. But the rocket attacks on Israel that Hamas supposedly started were, in fact, a response to Israeli attacks, even after similar truce agreements.
After the October 28-29 flare-up of violence, in which the BBC reported that 26 rockets were fired into Israel “hours after an Israeli air strike in Gaza,” there was a period of relative calm. An Israel-based Twitter account, QassumCount @Qassumcount, that catalogues rockets that hit Israel recorded almost no rocket fire until one shot was recorded on November 5th, the day after an unarmed, mentally unfit man was shot dead by Israeli troops as he approached a border fence.
Then on November 8th, Israeli forces made an incursion into Gaza, leveling areas of Palestinian land amidst indiscriminate shooting by troops, artillery, tanks and helicopter gunships. During that round of violence, a 13-year-old boy, Hameed Abu Daqqa, was shot in the head and killed by an Israeli military helicopter while he was playing soccer.
It appears that a major escalation of violence took place from both sides after that incident.
Shooting a child who is playing soccer from a helicopter is a brutal and inhumane act. It was clearly intended to provoke a reaction by the Palestinians, who react to the murder of their children the same way anyone would, in this case by shooting at Israeli soldiers. Israel then retaliated by shooting two more children, and even opened fire on the funeral for one of them. Yet the first news about Israel and Gaza reported to the American audience was when militants in Gaza fired some rockets into Israel and Hamas was portrayed as the unreasonable aggressor who started it all.
Despite the situation at that time, yet another truce was brokered between November 11th and 13th, coinciding with a lull in rocket attacks. Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of Gaza’s Hamas government, praised the main armed factions in the enclave for agreeing to a truce. "They showed a high sense of responsibility by saying they would respect calm should the Israeli occupation also abide by it," he said.
The next day, November 14th, Israel broke the truce with the extrajudicial assassination of Hamas military chief Ahmad al-Jabari in an air strike. The Telegraph UK quoted other Hamas leaders saying that this act has “opened the gates of hell.”
The rest is history written in the blood of dead civilians, most which were innocent Palestinians, including women and children. Overall, the offensive that began on November 14th killed 150 Palestinians, including 53 civilians, and wounded 1100 people, including 225 children, Gaza heath official Ashraf al-Kidra said.
On the Israeli side, three civilians have died from Palestinian rocket fire and dozens have been wounded. A rocket-defense system has intercepted hundreds of rockets bound for populated areas.
Israel’s contempt for truces and ceasefires is nothing new. In November 2008, Israel broke a months-long ceasefire, manufacturing a crisis that it then used to justify its December 2008-January 2009 massacre of 1,400 people in Gaza.
Israel has a long, well-documented history of breaking ceasefires and contempt for U.N. resolutions, but one would never know it by watching cable news in the U.S. or reading U.S media publications such as the New York Times.
The U.S. government provides Israel with over $3 billion dollars of aid per year, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers. Yet Israel continually violates internationally brokered ceasefire agreements, U.N. resolutions and uses high tech weapons procured through the U.S. to shell, bomb and shoot at “militants” within a civilian population of 1.6 million, most of which are women and children, crammed into an occupied territory roughly twice the size of Washington D.C.
With homeless veterans in the streets of the U.S., many Americans struggling to make ends meet, and talk of falling off of the “fiscal cliff,” perhaps it is time for the American people to reconsider writing Israel blank checks. If in doubt, you can see your taxpayer dollars at work in the slideshow.
It will be interesting to see if this new cease fire holds, but if history repeats itself, it will not. And Americans will pay the bill.