Ceasefire, finally

Published March 26, 2024

OVER five months since the Gazan slaughter began, the UN Security Council finally approved on Monday a resolution calling for a ceasefire in the occupied Palestinian territory. Several such attempts had been made since the conflict between Israel and Hamas began on Oct 7, yet the US had vetoed three ceasefire resolutions.

This time, probably because of the international backlash against Israeli barbarism, as well as domestic criticism of the Biden administration’s ‘iron-clad’ support for Tel Aviv’s murderous campaign in an election year, Washington decided to abstain. This may indicate the American government’s moral ambiguity over the mass murder of over 32,000 Palestinian civilians — the US ambassador to the UN said they “did not agree” with everything in the resolution — but perhaps such a position is preferable to stonewalling every attempt to stop the butchery.

While there is little to celebrate, as the level of suffering in Gaza is staggering, at least the people of the besieged Strip will be given a break from the daily dose of death and destruction to mourn their loved ones, and start the long, painful process of healing. The UN secretary general was recently at the Rafah crossing and called for removing the obstacles that are blocking aid from reaching Gaza. Israel is the biggest obstacle, and it is hoped the ceasefire will allow food, water and medical aid to reach hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in distress. Famine — most of it manufactured by Israel — now stalks Gaza, with the WHO saying children in the Strip are on the “brink of death”. Moreover, thousands of children have been orphaned in this unholy war, and are in particular need of medical and psychological attention to help them deal with the trauma of watching genocidal violence unfold before their eyes. These must be the immediate goals of the international community.

Apart from extending prompt humanitarian assistance to Gaza’s population, all sides must work towards a more permanent cessation of violence. It should be remembered that an almost weeklong truce was agreed to in November, but broke down soon after.

The current arrangement should be more durable. While talk of ‘solutions’ may be unrealistic right now, once the dust has settled, Israel should be made to pay for the murder of thousands of innocents. Palestinian lives matter, and a generation of orphaned Gazan children will be looking to the world community to secure justice for them.

All eyes will now be on Israel and the US, its chief patron. Will Tel Aviv abide by the UNSC resolution? Or will it live up to its reputation of being a rogue state by dismissing this binding call, and continuing with its criminal campaign in Gaza? The days ahead will be critical for the entire region.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2024

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