There has been a ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Hamas since last night. Correspondent Olaf Koens explains what this means for Israel and the Palestinians.
What has this yielded?
There are only losers in a war. At least for the time being, the ceasefire has resolved that there are no more innocent victims on both sides. No rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel since last night, and the bombing of Gaza that killed so many civilians has ceased.
In the Gaza Strip, and elsewhere, thousands of Palestinas took to the streets to celebrate the victory. Hamas will claim it has retaliated against Israel. We will probably hear from Israel today that Hamas was dealt a “huge blow” and that the war was a success. Both sides will claim victory.
Politically you can already see how money will be made from this. Hamas has slammed its main rival, Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority. It was not Abbas who stood up for the Palestinians when they were evicted from their homes when tear gas was fired through the Al-Aqsa Mosque. No, it was Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Eleven days ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the politician who was once again unable to form a coalition and had to hand over the task of running the country. Now he can claim a military victory.
Has anything been resolved?
In the longer term, of course, nothing has changed. In fact, I think we will see the effects of this 11-day conflict for years to come. Israel appears to be more vulnerable than expected. Hamas has fired thousands of missiles right up to the last moment. It is still capable of that. The situation has not improved in the Gaza Strip. Last year, the UN stated in a report that it is “unlivable” in Gaza.
When we look more broadly, you see that the problems are piling up. Israel is now under high tension, not only in Gaza and the West Bank there was unrest, also in Israel itself there was unrest. There have been lynchings in several cities, angry crowds of Palestinians and large groups of Israeli nationalists have made many cities unsafe. That is a huge problem that cannot be solved easily. And it is also restless outside the national borders. Thousands of protesters in Jordan marched to the border, rockets were fired from Lebanon towards Israel.
How long can this last?
The sad reality is that with a ceasefire after a Gaza war, as in 2014, there is a slow realization that it is only a matter of time until the next escalation. Until the underlying issues are addressed, this conflict will remain dormant. All it takes is something to happen or it will erupt again in full force.
In the short term, we will have to look at reconstruction, at improving the living conditions of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. If you really want to resolve the conflict, a process must be initiated whereby the Palestinians in Gaza no longer live under a stifling blockade and Israel no longer needs to feel threatened. It’s safe to say that this requires a political and diplomatic miracle. I don’t see that happening for now.