At 2 a.m. local time on May 21, Israel and Hamas, the political organization that controls the Gaza Strip, reached a ceasefire agreement, ending the 11-day bloody conflict. As of May 20, the death toll caused by this round of conflict has reached 232, including 65 children and 39 women; 12 people in Israel have lost their lives, including 2 children.
Israel insisted that the airstrikes wiped out 160 militants in the Gaza Strip, while Palestine said only 20 militants were killed or injured.
Both Israel and Hamas declared victory in this round of exchanges of fire. Gaza people, who had been struggling for their lives and evading artillery in the past 11 days, lit fireworks to celebrate the return of peace.
Fadi Quran, the activities director of the Citizen Movement, said, “Almost everyone I know has not had a good night’s sleep in the past week. Parents and brothers are together. The pain never goes away, I hope I can share some for them, even if it is just a short day (pain).”
In the past week, although the international community has continued to pressure Israel and Palestine for a ceasefire, the media has repeatedly reported that the two sides “is about to reach a ceasefire agreement,” but they have been denied by both Israel and Palestine.
On May 19, U.S. President Biden, under continuous pressure, finally called on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to “significantly cool down” on that day, but Netanyahu later responded that he continued to crack down on it. His determination will not change, “until the goal is achieved.”
Biden’s pressure finally brought results. He said after the ceasefire agreement was reached, “I believe we have a great opportunity to make progress, and I promise to push forward (the next work).”
Hugh Lovatt, an expert on Israeli-Palestinian issues at the European Committee on Foreign Relations, a European think tank, pointed out to Caijing reporter that the coordinators of the Egyptian government and the United Nations have worked hard to coordinate this round of the ceasefire this week, but then “many governments will take away It’s not my own credit”.
After the ceasefire was reached, the chief negotiator of the United Nations, Tor Wennesland, welcomed the implementation of the agreement between Israel and Palestine on social media and expressed condolences to those who lost their loved ones in the war. At the same time, they specifically named Egypt and Qatar. With the assistance of the wheel, “the construction of Palestine can begin.”
The old city of Jerusalem clashes again
Less than 48 hours before the ceasefire agreement was reached, Palestinian residents in the Gaza Strip were still struggling to flee for their lives. At 6 a.m. on May 19th, residents in the Al-Saftawi neighborhood of North Gaza received a notice from the Israeli military asking them to get up and leave their homes to escape for their lives. The residents tried to ask for more time to wake the sleeping residents. The Israeli soldiers refused. We will fire warning rockets” so that everyone wakes up.
“Warning rocket launcher? What is this inhuman concept?” The home of Shahd Abusalama, a 29-year-old Palestinian who is studying for a PhD in Sheffield, England, is in this neighborhood. She has barely slept in the past 10 days. In addition to constantly trying to call home, he was staring at the TV to watch the bombing of the Gaza Strip. “Every phone call may be the last time.” She told the Caijing reporter with a fragile voice.
For Israel, it is also intolerable for Hamas to launch rockets rashly.
“We need a real solution.” Netanyahu’s adviser and diplomat Mark Regev said that Israel can’t stand Hamas launching rockets casually. In the past 11 days, Hamas has launched more than 4,000 rockets into Israel.
Regif explained that Israel’s refusal of the ceasefire under international pressure is because “an immature temporary ceasefire agreement means Hamas’s victory, which will not help anyone. If Hamas regains energy, it will be detrimental to Israel, It’s not good for the Palestinians, and it’s not good for peace.”
The conflict originated in the confrontation between Israeli police and Palestinian Muslims in East Jerusalem. East Jerusalem is the holy place of Islam and Judaism at the same time. The Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, the holy sites of Muslims, and the Temple Mount and Western Wall of Jews are all located here.
On April 13, the first day of the Muslim month of Ramadan, Israeli police broke into the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem to interrupt Palestinian Muslims who were praying, and unplugged the loudspeakers used to broadcast scriptures in the temple. Since that day was also Israel’s Memorial Day, the Israeli President delivered a speech at the Western Wall next to him. Israeli officials did not want the scripture broadcast of the mosque to affect the president’s speech, but the practice of unplugging the speaker clearly offended Muslims and made Muslims feel completely not respected.
On May 19, 2021, in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian girl sits on an unexploded missile after an Israeli air strike. Unlike Hamas’s lack of precision missiles, Israeli bombers put severe pressure on the Palestinians to survive. A mother told the media that she put her children in different rooms every night to spread the risk. Picture/surging image
The Grand Mufti Sabri of Jerusalem (Sheikh Ekrima Sabri) said afterwards that the Israeli police’s interruption of prayers in the mosque had worsened the situation, “that was a turning point.”
After that, Israeli police restricted Palestinian Muslims from entering and exiting the square outside Damascus during Ramadan, causing the latter to clashed with Israeli police for several weeks. Angry Palestinian residents in Israel burned cars on the streets and clashed with the police, while the majority of Jews also randomly attacked Arabs.
In addition, Muslim residents’ dissatisfaction with Israeli managers also partly stems from the fact that Muslim residents in the Sheikh Jala district in East Jerusalem are facing deportation. They believe that Israeli settlers have changed the status quo through the purchase of land for many years, and finally achieved their goal of expelling them. At the beginning of 2021, figures from the non-governmental organization “West Bank Jewish Population Statistics” showed that from 2017 to 2021, the Jewish population in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank increased by 13%.
The Sheikh Jala community was purchased by Israeli settlers with foreign donations. Although Palestinian households have lived in the area for several generations, Israeli settlers began to file lawsuits against these households in 1972. The Jerusalem District Court finally ruled that 6 households should Move out before May 2, and the other 7 households move out before August 1. The Palestinian households subsequently filed an appeal, and the Israeli Supreme Court announced on May 9 that it would postpone the decision on whether to deport these households, which was originally announced on the 10th.
The Palestinians who went to the Al-Aqsa Mosque to pray during Ramadan were also in solidarity with Sheikh Jala residents who might be deported. Not only that, May 10 was a holiday for Israeli Jews to celebrate the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967. Israel called it “Jerusalem Day.” Many far-right Jewish organizations once planned to march to Sheikh Jala. Throughout the following day, Israeli police, Palestinian protesters, and Jewish far-right clashes continued.
The Israeli police used high-pressure water guns, rubber bullets and tear gas and other non-lethal anti-riot weapons to push back and finally arrest these young Palestinians. The conflict in the streets continued to heat up. Hamas has asked Israel for many years to remove the police deployed in East Jerusalem, but Israel has always ignored this request.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement on May 7 stating that Israel cannot enforce its own laws in occupied areas such as East Jerusalem and expel Palestinians from their homes. “We ask Israel to immediately stop compulsory expulsions, including thanks. Residents of Hejara District”.
The Jordanian government, which has jurisdiction over East Jerusalem, issued a statement on May 10 condemning the “barbaric” actions of the Israeli police, trying to expel Palestinians in the Sheikh Jala district was “playing with fire” and calling on Israel to “respect prayers and international law” “Guarantee the rights of Arabs in conflict areas.
Husam Zomlot, a Palestinian diplomat in the UK office, told the media that “such conflicts have existed for 100 years.” The Palestinians face the unfair treatment of being expelled from their land. Many people are determined to resist. He told the media that his sister’s family of six people living in the Gaza Strip, including four children, had been sleeping in a bed since the Israeli air strikes, “because they were determined to die together.” It is precisely because of such years of unfair treatment that he does not believe that Hamas, which fired the rocket first, is the culprit that caused this round of conflict.
Lovat pointed out to the Caijing reporter that the biggest difference between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the past is that apart from the exchange of fire between the two armies, Palestinian protests and mobilizations in Jerusalem and the West Bank have never occurred before. What is worrying is that These ethnic conflicts on the ground may not end with the ceasefire between the two sides.
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip in Palestine, launched rockets into Israel on May 9. Israel immediately responded with air strikes, breaking the seven-year peace between Israel and Palestine since 2014.
Before May 9th, Israel’s Netanyahu government and Hamas had maintained a tacit understanding for several years. Through the coordination of the Egyptian government, United Nations officials and Qatar, the Netanyahu government believed that it would maintain a relationship with Hamas. The relationship is more reasonable than with other organizations. The agreement agrees that as long as Hamas can maintain stability in the Gaza Strip, Hamas can receive payments from Qatar to Hamas every month with Israel’s acquiescence. Israel will assist in laying cables and natural gas pipelines and allow thousands of them. Residents of Gaza work in Israel.
During the agreement period, as long as Israel relaxes slightly in implementing relevant commitments, Hamas will launch rockets to “remind” Israel, and the Netanyahu government will quickly correct its “fault”. This is why the Israeli military is in Before Hamas launched a large number of rockets, it was judged that Hamas would not give up the economic interests that had been maintained for many years.
Relevant experts pointed out that the reason why Hamas chose to heat up the situation this time was that Palestinian President Abbas stopped the first parliamentary election in 15 years on April 30, which was originally planned to be held on May 22. This move aroused serious dissatisfaction from Hamas at the time, criticizing Abbas’s approach as a “coup.” Abbas halted the election on the grounds that Israel did not allow Palestinian voters to vote in East Jerusalem, but outsiders believed that the real reason was that his party, Fatah, might lose out.
“Hamas is a political opportunist. After the election was cancelled, Abbas’s own authority was weakened, which changed Hamas’s political calculations.” Lovat pointed out that Hamas hopes to pass the election before the election. The governance of other places is easier to manage than Gaza, but the cancellation of elections blocked these roads.
Other analyses believe that Hamas used Abbas to use Israel as an excuse to compete with Fatah when the masses clash, “who can best protect Jerusalem.” Israeli intelligence agencies suspect that Hamas incited protests and conflicts in Jerusalem not only to challenge the control of the Israeli government, but also to undermine the Abbas government’s governance status in the West Bank.
Israel believes that another reason for the escalation of the conflict is the power of Yahya Sinwar, the head of the Hamas Gaza region. Sinwar has been in jail in Israel for more than 20 years and not only speaks Hebrew, but is also I think I can play with the Israelis better.
Based on these analysis of Hamas, 59-year-old Sinwar became the focus of the Israeli army’s bombing. His house in Gaza and his brother’s house were bombed by the Israeli army in turn, but there are no reports of casualties. The Israel Defense Forces emphasized that they are targeting the infrastructure of Hamas and Islamic extremists, especially the tunnel system used by Hamas leaders to escape.
However, the location of Israeli bombing is obviously more than these targets. Absuramar pointed out that a missile destroyed at least one square kilometer of land. “They (the Israeli army) claimed that they were attacking based on morals, but most of them died. It’s children and women… Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their homes… In my family’s case, they are hiding with another thirty or fifty people, without water, electricity, food, internet, and endless shelling. “.
Not only that, Israel has been criticized by all parties for bombing a building that was originally an office of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera. Israel emphasized that Hamas units were also hidden in the building.
Israel once announced that ground forces had entered the Gaza Strip, and then revised its statement to say that ground forces were only on standby at the border and had not yet entered the Gaza Strip. Lovat pointed out that Israel is used to putting ground forces on standby in order to exert pressure on Palestine.
“Washington Post” diplomatic commentator David Ignatius criticized that Israel’s bombing attempt to eradicate Hamas is an illusion, “If you think that this can be exchanged for permanent obedience, this approach should have been successful long ago. It’s right, but this strategy has been (proven) repeated failures.” He believes that the United States has reached the time when it needs to take a long-term view to promote reconciliation in the Gaza Strip.
The different levels of military strength of Israel and Palestine have affected the disparity in casualties, and the attitudes of the people living on both sides to the conflict are also completely different.
An Israeli resident told the Caijing reporter that he has become accustomed to such shelling in Palestine, but the children at home are more afraid of the shelling, “or wait until Hamas and Iran disappear” before similar situations will disappear.
The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip cannot be as relaxed as the Israelis. Unlike Hamas’s lack of precision missiles, Israeli bombers put severe pressure on the Palestinians to survive. A mother told the media that she put her children in different rooms every night to spread the risk.
“The bodies of a family of six, including four children, are now being dug up from the rubble.” A Palestinian activist said on social media on the morning of May 14 local time.
The difference in the armed strength of the two countries comes from the vast difference in military equipment. The Israeli Ministry of Defense stated that a missile has been fired at Israel every three minutes since the conflict. It is worth mentioning that during the escalation of this round of conflict, the rockets produced locally in the Gaza Strip were used to attack Israel for the first time.
What really protects Israel is its anti-rocket system, which has been deployed for many years. Most of the rockets fired into Israeli airspace can be accurately intercepted by Israel’s “Iron Dome” defense system. Israel currently uses 10 sets of “Iron Dome” surface-to-air defense systems, which determine whether to intercept by detecting the movement of invading rockets. Each set covers 60 square miles. Once it is decided to intercept, the system will launch interceptor shells for future attacks. The rocket was detonated. Since the system was officially deployed in 2011, it has intercepted more than 2,000 rockets with a success rate of over 80%. The interception success rate in this round of firefight has reached 90%.
According to analysis by Lebanon and Hamas, launching a large number of rockets, such as 1,000 per day, will cause the “Iron Dome” defense system to fail. This is why Hamas “only asks for quantity, not quality.”
The research and development of “Iron Dome” mainly comes from the technical and budget support of the US government. Since the Obama era, hundreds of millions of dollars have been allocated to support the project. In 2014, when the relationship between Hamas and Israel fell into tension, it allocated 225 million US dollars to produce “iron dome”. Interceptor shells used by “Qing”. As of November 2020, the United States has assisted Israel with US$1.6 billion for the “Iron Dome”.
Israeli officials have recently affirmed the function of the “Iron Dome”, stating that the “Iron Dome” protects the lives of tens of thousands of people in Israel.
Dawn of peace
The renewed Israeli-Palestinian conflict has made the international community almost too late to respond. In the early morning of May 14th, UN Secretary-General Guterres called for an immediate ceasefire on both sides. “In the spirit of Eid al-Fitr, I call on Israel and Gaza to immediately cool down and ceasefire. Too many innocent people have lost their lives. This conflict will only make the entire region even worse. Extreme.”
The UN Security Council and the foreign ministers of Muslim countries then convened an emergency meeting on May 16 to demand that Israel stop bombing civilians. Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a video conference that the escalating conflict between Israel and Palestine has caused a large number of casualties, including women and children, and the situation is critical and severe. A ceasefire and cessation of violence cannot be delayed. The international community must act urgently to prevent the situation from further deteriorating, to prevent the region from falling into turmoil, and to protect the lives of local people.
However, after the meeting, the United States prevented the Security Council from issuing a statement on this issue several times.
Since taking office, US President Biden has stated that he will deal with the Middle East issue coldly. As the two sides exchanged fire, Palestinian casualties have become more and more serious, and he is under pressure to change policies. He stated on May 13 that he was putting pressure on both sides to achieve a ceasefire as soon as possible, but emphasized that Israel “has the right to defend itself.”
On May 19, in the face of accumulating domestic and international criticism, Biden finally pointed out to Netanyahu over the phone that he needed to see the conflict “significantly cooling” before the end of the day. Netanyahu then ” Thank you for the support of the United States.” On the same day, the United States prevented the UN Security Council from issuing a resolution calling for a ceasefire for the fifth time on the grounds that the resolution may affect the process of mediation by the Biden administration.
The former UNHCR Special Investigator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, John Dugard, criticized the United States as unsuitable to act as a mediator. He pointed out that the United States has not only repeatedly prevented the Security Council from issuing resolutions, but also refused to have direct dialogue with Hamas. The embassy established in Jerusalem in violation of international law is still operating normally. In addition, the United States provides 3.8 billion US dollars in aid to Israel each year. Not an honest mediator”.
With the conclusion of the ceasefire agreement, the struggle between the parties will resume. The United States has stated that it does not intend to conduct any exchanges with Hamas, but will cooperate with Palestinian President Abbas and his government to help repair the Gaza Strip.
A ceasefire is easy to achieve, but the deteriorating racial and religious antagonism is difficult to improve. Lovat pointed out that all parties need to first recognize that there is no plan that can completely resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The plans jointly promoted by the international community over the past 20 years have failed. Next, the international community should help “Palestinian to solve its own internal problems, reconciliation, unity, and democratization.” At the same time, the international community needs to pressure Israel and slowly stop the occupation.
Lovat emphasized to the Caijing reporter that “the ceasefire is only the beginning. The work of the United Nations and Egyptian coordinators has ended. Next, the international community should promote a complete settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through diplomacy.”