A truce between Israel and Hamas took hold on 21 May 2021, after the worst violence in years, with U.S. President Joe Biden pledging to salvage the devastated Gaza Strip and the UN urging new Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.
GS-II: International Relations (Important Developments in the International Stage)
Dimensions of the Article:
- What led to the ceasefire?
- Did Israel achieve its goals?
- What was Hamas’s strategy?
- What does the future hold?
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What led to the ceasefire?
- Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and militant rocket attacks on Israeli towns ceased after 11 days under an agreement mediated by Egypt but with negotiations to maintain stability still to be held, it was unclear how long it would last.
- Unlike in 2014, when the last major fighting between Israel and Hamas occurred, the Israeli troops were wary of launching a ground invasion this time and this time, the focus of Israel’s military campaign, which started on May 10, was on leaving maximum damage to Hamas’s militant infrastructure through airstrikes.
- In the first 10 days of the fighting, Israel carried out more than 1,800 airstrikes on Gaza, according to the UN. But one issue with offensives that are heavily focused on air power is that they need a quicker exit strategy.
- Airstrikes will leave disproportionate civilian casualties. And disproportionate airstrikes, which was Israel’s strategy, will have even greater damage, inviting international pressure.
- While Israel tried to sell the narrative that it’s a victim of terror (which has buyers), the fact remains that Israel is the only sovereign power in this conflict, which continues the occupation of Palestinian territories in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, international laws and norms.
- So, when civilian casualties mounted in Gaza, even those countries that initially supported Israel’s “right to defend itself” started calling for a ceasefire.
Did Israel achieve its goals?
- During the course of the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there were two ways to deal with Hamas — one, to conquer Hamas and the other to establish deterrence. The Prime Minister said his aim was “forceful deterrence”, but conquering was “an open possibility”.
- Israeli military leaders have claimed that they have killed more than 200 members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. However, Gaza Health Ministry says more than 200 civilian Gazans were killed in Israeli strikes, including 66 children.
- Israel has also claimed that it has destroyed Hamas’s elaborate tunnel network and military and intelligence infrastructure.
What was Hamas’s strategy?
- As soon as the ceasefire was announced, Palestinians took to the streets “celebrating the resistance”.
- Militarily, Hamas, despite the heavy losses it suffered, demonstrated its growing rocket fire capabilities as Hamas launched at least 4,000 rockets in 11 days.
- By launching barrages of rockets within minutes, it also managed to overwhelm Israel’s Iron Dome defence system.
What does the future hold?
- In 2014, after the ceasefire was announced, Israel attempted to assassinate Hamas’s shadowy military commander Mohammed Deif, but failed. It was followed by more rocket attacks.
- Ceasefires can be fragile and this time too, the truce is tenuous.
- Hamas says it accepted truce after Israel promised “to lift their hands off Sheikh Jarrah (where Palestinians face eviction from their houses) and Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Israeli side has denied any such promise and emphasised that the ceasefire was unconditional.
- The Supreme Court of Israel is supposed to give a final ruling on the eviction of Palestinians in the neighbourhood. If Israel goes ahead with the eviction process, there could be more protests and violence.
- Israeli leaders say there won’t be lasting peace as long as Hamas has rockets. Hamas says there will be rockets as long as the occupation continues.
-Source: The Hindu