Any hope for a ceasefire between Israel and Palestine seems to have disappeared as quickly as the weekend.
After initially rejecting an Israeli offer Saturday for a 24-hour truce, Hamas said Sunday that it had agreed to hold fire ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
But as Israel's Cabinet met to discuss the offer and the ongoing war, rockets rained down on southern Israel and Israeli strikes could be heard in Gaza… Each side blamed the other for scuttling the efforts.
Simultaneously, United Nations's Ban Ki-moon has urged both sides to accept and implement a 24-hour humanitarian ceasefire.
Moreover, as noted by the New York Times, President Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday expressing his concern over the humanitarian situation and the growing death toll in the region.
Both sides, however, seem far too determined to accomplish their own independent goals, regardless of the bloodshed. Hamas wants to end the controversial blockade that has crippled the territory for the past seven years.
At the same time, AP states, Israel “wants more time to destroy Hamas' rocket arsenal and the military tunnels the Islamic militants use to infiltrate into Israel and smuggle weapons.”
At this point, the 20-day war has led to the deaths of 1,023 Palestinians, many of them civilians -- including children. On the Israeli side, 43 soldiers, two civilians, and one Thai worker have also died as a consequence of this conflict.
Today, Al Jazeera reported that an Israeli airstrike hit a refugee camp, killing seven children. It was also reported that a separate Israeli airstrike also nearly hit the Shifa hospital in Gaza City.
Simultaneously, the Israeli military reported that at least a dozen rockets had been fired at Israel from Gaza since midnight.
Accordingly, throughout the international community, Israel has received a great deal of criticism for its tactics during this conflict. The Brazilian government recently released a statement characterizing the Israeli assault on Gaza as a "disproportionate use of force."
The Israeli government offered a very harsh response to this statement, calling Brazil a "diplomatic dwarf," and even brought up the recent World Cup humiliation against Germany.
It is notable that both Israel and Hamas have been condemned by the United Nations. On July 23, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) announced that it would launch an international inquiry into human rights violations that may have been committed by Israel in Gaza.
As noted by the Guardian:
Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, warned earlier that Israel may have committed war crimes in its offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, where hundreds of Palestinian civilians have been killed in the past two weeks...
Pillay told an emergency debate at the UNHRC in Geneva that Israel had not done enough to protect civilians... She also condemned Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules Gaza, and other armed Palestinian groups, for their 'indiscriminate attacks' on Israel.
Whether or not this inquiry will have a palpable impact on the current situation remains to be seen. It appears that Israel is unlikely to cooperate in any such investigation based on similar instances in the past.
What is evident, however, is that the bloodshed will likely continue, and will not cease until both sides can come to more balanced terms.
Hamas seems determined to demand an end to the blockade, while Israel continues to argue that its offensive on Gaza is what any rational state would do if faced with the same circumstances.
Some sort of compromise must be reached, or both sides must at least agree to a cessation in hostilities in order to resume peaceful negotiations.
Hopefully, for the sake of civilians in both Gaza and Israel, this will happen in the very near future.
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