Ceasefire Not Pause – 9 November 2023


It’s a ceasefire that’s required in Gaza not a humanitarian pause. The latter’s simply weasel words and a cop out from what’s needed to avoid genocide. It’s a justification to continue the appalling Israel/US policy of indiscriminate attacks upon a civilian area masked by an assertion that it’s really to destroy Hamas.  

Yet the facts disclose that in the latter it will fail and in the former its succeeding but at an appalling price in lost lives, many of whom are innocent children. That Sir Kier Starmer echoes the feeble words of the American President and the British Prime Minister’s the mark of the man. He’s a nodding donkey for the existing order, whether social, economic or diplomatic. With him nothing will change, and any price will be paid for power.  

What does a humanitarian pause mean after all? Letting more food convoys in, turning on water and energy supplies? Surely those things should be happening as of right for civilians, not a brief window of 24 hours or whatever to bury the dead, collect the wounded and then start all over again. 

As Armistace Day nears memories are conjured up of Christmas Truces on the Western Front and soldiers playing football. It’s an image portrayed in “Oh, What a Lovely War” or “Blackadder” with their satirical though often searing take of the debacle. The reality was of course gas attacks, or the routine execution of the shell shocked. But that was a conflict between two military forces and fought in an area from where civilians had fled. Poignant it doubtless was albeit the slaughter and horror then recommenced.  

But that is not Gaza. There it’s an attack by the Israeli Defence Forces upon the enclave of Gaza, a narrow strip of land housing over 2 million people. It’s an urban area where folk live not a battlefield in a rural area with limited population. It’ s strikes from the sky with rockets and planes and from the ground with troops and tanks, all upon towns and cities where people live.         

Hamas may be entrenched or rather hiding underground in tunnels. Some may well be under hospitals given the likely scale and sophistication of the defences. But bombing the hospitals above is still a war crime. The rules of war are clear on that.     

None of this denies that every nation has a right to defend itself and that the attacks on 7th October by Hamas were barbaric and cruel. Civilian hostage taking is as offensive as civilian casualties. Those actions must be unreservedly condemned as with any attacks upon civilians. But this goes way beyond that.  

The Israeli response has been entirely disproportionate, breaching international laws and conventions and has now moved from legitimate warfare to the perpetration of war crimes. Cutting off energy and food supplies, bombing hospitals and causing what can only be described as indiscriminate carnage is simply unacceptable in a supposedly civilized world.  

The evidence of that doesn’t come from Hamas or even from the Palestinian Authority but from respected aid agencies. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recorded 102 Israeli military attacks upon healthcare sites in Gaza since hostilities commenced. The Red Cross has declared that 2.2 million people are in need of vital humanitarian need there.  

It’s a ceasefire not a pause that’s essential.