A conflict steeped in history: will the ceasefire hold?

This morning a truce was reached between Hamas (the Palestinian Sunni Islamic political party that governs the Gaza Strip) and Israel. The conflict that has raged in Gaza for the past week ceased at 6am Australian Eastern Time.

In Gaza, 150 people were killed and more than 800 were injured during this conflict. In Israel, five were killed and more than 43 have been injured.

The Gaza Strip has been the scene of much violence between the Palestinians and the Israelis, including the 1948 War, when the area gained its current boundaries, and the Israeli occupation of the area during the Six Day War in 1967.

This recent violence has been no different to past history in terms of its severity, and indeed the truce reached this morning is no different to past truces. Both the US and Egypt have attempted to broker peace agreements between the two in the past, both successfully and unsuccessfully.

And like in the past, people have taken sides, casting one side as the victim and the other as the aggressor.

Notably, the US has always supported Israel, providing them with weapons and financial support. Even western history has a tendency to try and portray Israel as the victims of the situation. This stems from our western guilt as a result of the horrific acts committed against the Jewish race during World War II.

Celebrating Palestinian gunmen hold a poster of the Hamas military chief Ahmed al-Jabari, whose death in an Israeli air strike last week helped trigger the conflict. Photo: Reuters

Antisemitism is splashed throughout the pages of modern history. Pogroms (a violent mob attack usually against Jews) took place through the 20th century all across Europe, but it was World War II and the Jewish Holocaust that created a true sense of guilt amongst western nations, especially those that had initially turned a blind eye to the actions of Hitler, the Nazi Party and his Third Reich. At the end of World War II, these nations had to admit six million Jews had been brutally exterminated by the man they had tried to ignore, and they were desperate to find a way to pay for their mistake.

The formal recognition of the state of Israel in 1948 by the United Nations was an attempt to right a wrong that will never be eradicated from the pages of history. The state of Israel replaced Mandatory Palestine which had been under British administration since it was carved out of the Ottomon Empire in 1920. The Palestinians became a stateless people; a people forced to find refugee in other countries.

The Gaza Strip is part of the Palestinian territories which also includes the West Bank (including East Jerusalem). The Gaza Strip has been governed by Hamas since it split from the Palestinian Authority in 2007. Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation by Israel, the US, Canada, the EU and Japan.

Neighbouring Arab states did not take kindly to the proclamation of Israel, invading Israel almost immediately in support of the Arab-Palestinians. And the rest is history: blood has been spilled on both sides, by both sides. Neither is blameless in this endless conflict. Yet, it seems in this debate it’s almost impossible for people to not try and take sides.

The 1948 proclamation of the state of Israel can almost be seen as the western world’s mute apology to a race that had suffered persecution for generations, but it forgot one important thing: where were the Palestinians to go?

They, like the Jews, believed they had been promised this holy land as their home: a Biblical promise that dated back to the time of Abraham and the formation of the Jewish and Muslim faiths.

While there are Palestinian territories, there is no formal Palestine state. The Palestinians are seeking international recognition of their state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip – all territories that have belonged to Israel in the past. Israel claim if the bid is to go ahead they will consider it a breach of the Oslo Accords, a set of peace terms set out between the two sides in 1993.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that a Palestinian statehood appeal would push peace further away and lead to instability.

It seems like great hypocrisy on the behalf of Israel. Why is it fair for them to have a formally recognised state and yet not okay for the Palestinian people to have the same?

However, part of the refusal may well stem from the continued refusal of Hamas to officially recognise Israel. Last year, a Hamas official said the group would never recognise Israel as it would deprive future Palestinian generations of the right to “liberate the land.”

It’s difficult to believe that while refusals exist on both sides to recognise the validity of the other’s state, that any ceasefire and truce agreements will last.

Read a chronology of the events of the most recent violence in the Gaza.


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One response to “A conflict steeped in history: will the ceasefire hold?

  1. Pingback: 2012: The Year in News | Cheaper Than Rubies

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