Saturday, August 27, 2011

Who needs a ceasefire anyway?

A bit of the past week's history: after several days of escalated fighting on the Gaza Strip border, a ceasefire was declared. The Government of Israel approved it after a meeting of the "Forum of Eight" lasting deep into the night, and next morning the press was told that "The State of Israel formulated a policy of examining the situation on the ground and noting whether or not the shooting continues, and the IDF shall conduct its operations accordingly".

On the next day the behavior of the Gaza Palestinians was thoroughly examined, and - wonder of wonders - the ceasefire was adhered to, the shooting of rockets did stop, residents of the South began to leave the air raid shelters, and at the Ashkelon National Park began preparations for the 2011 Sea Breeze Festival, a large scale Israeli Music outdoor event which the people of the city and the entire region have long been looking forward to.

But a few hours before the festival was to take place, somebody – in the  government or army or security services – took the decision to send the Air Force to perform a "liquidation" in the Gaza Strip. The assassination was carried out on schedule, the car traveling on the Gaza Strip's main highway was destroyed and its passenger killed on the spot.  A smooth and precise implementation, exactly as planned. The citizens of Israel were informed that it had been a dangerous terrorist and that the action had been necessary - and who can independently monitor and judge the Security Services of the State of Israel, in exercising their authority to issue and implement death sentences?

So, there was no question of an open air music festival, and the sound of singers was replaced by air raid alarms and loudspeakers stridently announcing "Code Red! Code Red!". Fortunately, during the days of renewed escalation nobody was killed (not on the Israeli side, that is). The case of an Israeli baby who was lightly wounded by the shrapnel of a Palestinian missile received considerable publicity in our media. Only  those who follow the Palestinian media heard of two Palestinian children aged two, killed at two different locations in Israeli Air Force bombings.

"The liquidation of one militant, one out of the thousands roaming Gaza, was unnecessary," said yesterday Yehiel Lasry, Mayor of Ashdod – one of the cities which got back into the line of fire as a direct result of that liquidation (Ma'ariv, August 26, 2011).

Last night, another ceasefire on the Gaza border went into effect. Will it last, this time? And if not, who will be responsible for breaching it this time? And how does this relate to the social protest, which is about to resume tonight at full force, with demonstrations scheduled simultaneously at five places? And with Noam Shalit, father of the famous captive soldier, who tonight joins with the social protesters to call for a prisoner swap which is the only way to bring home his son Gil'ad?

Yechiel Zohar, Mayor of Netivot - another of the southern communities entering the line of fire at every new Gaza border flare-up - called upon the government to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians, and reach a  long-term stable peace which would give breathing space to residents of the Negev. But who in the government is going to pay attention to this voice from the Negev, in the commotion of the September events which are speedily coming upon us?