Gaza: what will come after a provisional ceasefire?

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By PAULO SERGIO PINHEIRO*

No crime can be stopped with a date set to continue

After five months of massive bombings and ground military operations by Israel, resulting in more than 30 Palestinian deaths, including 10 children, the Gaza Strip has become a field of ruins. In addition to the destruction of six hospitals and 12 universities, everything related to social life was destroyed: mosques, courts, schools, historical archives, museums, cultural centers. Civil infrastructure for water, sewage and electricity was also destroyed.

Military orders to evacuate the population resulted in forced displacement from the north to the center, soon the target of bombings, to the south and, from there, to Rafah – now also under attack.

This entire situation is worsened by impediments on the part of the Israelis to the distribution of humanitarian aid – despite one of the provisional measures imposed by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) having obliged Israel to facilitate the access of international support to the region.

The volume of humanitarian aid collapsed due to Israeli attacks on police officers – suspected of being Hamas militants – guarding the convoys. In recent weeks, 62 trucks have entered Gaza – well below the 200 per day that Israel had committed to releasing, even though it is estimated that 500 vehicles would be needed to meet the population's basic needs.

There are pickets of Israeli civilians, including women and teenagers, many of them with hatchets and box cutters, who attack the convoys under the pretext “of preventing aid from going to Hamas”. National Security Minister Ben-Gvir indicated that police would not suppress protests by blocking truck access.

Despite attempts at deterrence by Western allies, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promises that Israel will attack Rafah after evacuating 1 and a half million refugees. But any evacuation order under the current conditions in the region – without shelter, food, water and medical care – would cause cruel suffering and would be a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and human rights.

Israel's Western allies, faced with this horrifying humanitarian situation, once again reaffirm the country's defense right to attack Hamas, even though this defense consisted of retaliation against the civilian population in Gaza. Immersed in a huge contradiction, these countries began to demand from Israel the protection of Palestinian civilians, the entry of humanitarian aid and, even, the proposal of a six-week ceasefire. In this way, they began to launch basic essential aid by planes, as well as announcing a sea route with the construction of a floating pier, ensuring regular supply. It is estimated, however, that this port will take two months to build.

After all resolutions imposing a ceasefire (including those of Brazil) were vetoed in the UN Security Council, Israel's allies negotiated with the Arab countries, which have access to Hamas, a six-week ceasefire - without Much success until this beginning of Ramadan.

The obligatory question is: what will happen if this provisional six-week ceasefire takes place? Will Israel bomb Raffah? It will continue to disregard the provisional measures dictated by the International Court of Justice, failing to protect the Palestinians of Gaza from acts of genocide, such as the forced displacement of the population, the deprivation of access to food and water and the obstruction of humanitarian aid, including fuel, shelter , clothes and hygiene? What about the destruction of Palestinian lives in Gaza?

There is nothing more macabre and cruel than a pause in acts of genocide with a deadline set in advance for its continuation. All UN Member States that respect international law, including Brazil, must take measures to make this ceasefire permanent. No crime can be interrupted with a date set for its continuation.

*Paulo Sergio Pinheiro is Professor Emeritus at FFLCH (USP) and Unicamp; former Minister of Human Rights. Author, among other books, of Strategies of illusion: the world revolution and Brazil, 1922-1935 (Companhia das Letras) [https://amzn.to/3TVJQdF]

Originally published in the newspaper Folha de S. Paul.


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