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03:49

13 APR 2024

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  • Jenna Romano

Will Israel Agree to a Ceasefire?

With international pressure mounting see why Israel says it will not agree to a ceasefire in its ongoing war to eliminate Hamas



Israeli Soliders

The Basic Facts 


  • On October 7th, approximately 3,000 Hamas terrorists invaded Israel in an unprecedented attack that, primarily, targeted civilians. Over 1,200 people were killed and some 240 hostages were seized. 


  • In response, Israel launched a wide-scale offensive in Gaza vowing to get rid of Hamas, return all hostages, and defend itself against the terrorist organization.


  • Without condemning the actions of Hamas, the UN voted overwhelmingly on December 12th to demand a permanent humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. 


 

Global And UN Pressure For A Permanent Ceasefire In Gaza


On Friday, December 8th, the UN Security Council (UNSC) voted on a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. While most members of the Security Council supported the resolution the United States blocked it, vetoing the resolution in a 13 to 1 vote. The US was one of five Security Council members who argued that Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas. In response, and to increase pressure on Israel to accept a complete ceasefire in Gaza, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted in favor of the ceasefire—with 153 parties voting in favor, 10 parties against, and 23 abstentions. An overwhelming majority.


On November 24th, Israel and Hamas agreed to a temporary ceasefire brokered by Qatar. The goal of this was to allow for the exchange of Israeli and foreign civilian hostages (mostly women and children) held in Gaza in return for Palestinian prisoners (many of whom are minors and women). 


The global pressure on Israel to agree to a complete ceasefire has increased on both diplomatic and public fronts. From public and political figures speaking out against Israel to worldwide demonstrations calling for an agreement— Israel faces significant pressure to stop their ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. Israeli leaders have repeatedly rejected the idea of a permanent ceasefire making it clear that there will be no ceasefire until every hostage taken on October 7th is returned and until the Hamas terrorist organization is eliminated. 



Israel And The US Reject Pressure For A Permanent Ceasefire


On December 12th 2023, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) met in response to the Israel-Hamas war. The UNGA, in an overwhelming majority, voted in favor of a complete humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, with 153 parties in favor of the ceasefire,10 parties against, and 23 abstentions. Included in those voting against the ceasefire were Israel, the US, Austria, Czechia, Guatemala, Liberia, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, and Paraguay. 



The resolution, however, fails to condemn Hamas for the massacre of Israeli people on October 7th. It also falls short of referring to Hamas as an extreme terrorist group that presents an ongoing threat to security and peace not only to Israelis but also to the citizens of  Gaza. 


Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, sharply criticized the assembly noting that passing the resolution made the institution increasingly irrelevant. He added that calls for a ceasefire are aimed at one goal: to “tie Israel’s hand and to continue Hamas’s reign of terror.”


As the fighting in Gaza is ongoing international pressure for a ceasefire continues. Regardless of the pressure from the UN, Israel is advancing its combat activities in Gaza with the goal of eliminating the terrorist organization.   


US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, confronted the General Assembly before the December 12th vote noting that while the US. supports some aspects of the resolution (for example, addressing the need for more humanitarian aid), "Any ceasefire right now would be temporary at the best and dangerous at worst—dangerous to Israelis, who would be subject to relentless attacks, and also dangerous to Palestinians, who deserve the chance to build a better future for themselves, free from Hamas."  



No Complete Ceasefire Without The Return of Hostages 

 

Rising bipartisan criticism, international protests calling for a stop to the war, and an overwhelming vote from the UNGC to institute a complete ceasefire as soon as possible have increasingly challenged Israel’s offensive in Gaza. For now, the stance of Israeli leaders has been clear: Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected calls for a permanent ceasefire. He has already steadfastly claimed since the start of the war that "there will be no ceasefire without the return of the hostages. This should be completely removed from the lexicon." 


With global pressure for a ceasefire only rising, why is it that most Israeli leaders have squashed any notion of extending a truce indefinitely? Their refusal emphasizes the goals of the war, “Israel is committed to achieve the war aims—freeing hostages, eliminating Hamas and ensuring that Gaza will never again pose a threat to residents of Israel,” the Prime Minister’s office said


According to the IDF, accepting a comprehensive ceasefire would mean the complete surrender of the Hamas terrorist organization which is not likely to happen anytime soon. 


Israel’s decision was also met with international diplomatic support—most notably and officially from the US. US officials made their stance clear with a veto to the UN’s resolution for a complete ceasefire presented at the Security Council on Friday, December 8th. Supporting the goals of Israel’s ground operation, the US made it clear they’re opposing the recent Arab-backed resolution calling for the current ceasefire.  


Since the start of the war, US President Joe Biden and his cabinet have called to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza. Still, the ultimate purpose of the war is the elimination of Hamas terrorists from the Gaza Strip. The US further argued that the UN’s proposal was imbalanced and unsustainable: 


“Although the United States strongly supports a durable peace in which both Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security, we do not support this resolution’s call for an unsustainable cease-fire that will only plant the seeds for the next war,” deputy US Ambassador Robert Wood told the UN. (WSJ).  






Why Israel and Hamas Agreed to a Temporary Ceasefire in November


After previously rejected ceasefire attempts, Qatar managed to broker an agreement between Israel and Hamas, providing a pause in the fighting from November 24th to December 1st, 2023. Qatar has become a linchpin in diplomatic processes for a truce deal since it is one of the few countries that has an open line of communication with both parties. 


Qatar’s influence was necessary to bridge the gap between what one official called  “two parties that have zero level of confidence in each other.” After negotiating until the early morning of November 23rd a plan which could be implemented was agreed on. This four-day truce was finally implemented on November 24th at 7 AM with stipulations in place to potentially extend the truce if Hamas agreed to release more hostages. 


The four-day ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas focused on a short pause in the fighting, rather than a comprehensive ceasefire. Terms of the plan included the gradual release of 50 civilian hostages held by Hamas in Gaza in return for the release of approximately 150 prisoners held in Israeli prisons (a ratio of three prisoners for every hostage). In addition, it was agreed that hundreds of trucks would be allowed to bring humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip each day while asserting that the Red Cross should visit the remaining hostages to check on their wellbeing. 


A total of 30 Israeli children and 20 Israeli women were released by Hamas during the first four days of the truce in addition to other foreign nationals kidnapped by Hamas. 


After four days and a lengthy back-and-forth process, the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was extended on November 28th by two days, allowing for the release of 10 more hostages per day in exchange for 30 Palestinian prisoners. Finally, the truce was extended for a seventh day just minutes before expiring on the morning of Thursday, November 30th. The same terms from previous extensions applied, requiring 10 Israeli hostages to be freed in exchange for 30 Palestinian prisoners.  


In total, the week-long ceasefire allowed for the release of 78 Israeli and dual-national hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners. The vast majority of hostages returned during the ceasefire were women and children. 



Why Did The Ceasefire Between Israel And Hamas End? 


Despite attempts at further extending the truce, the weeklong ceasefire between Hamas and Israel collapsed on Friday, December 1st. Reasons for the failure of negotiations were Hamas’s refusal to meet Israel’s conditions of returning all living women and children as well as providing lists of the captives they planned to release. 


Some of these proposals included the release of bodies, including those of the Bibas family, Shira, 32, Ariel, 4, and Kfir, 10 months, who Hamas asserts are dead. Israel has not yet verified this claim. Hamas officials also claimed that it was facing difficulty obtaining the locations of some of these hostages, who are being held by other terror groups in the Gaza Strip. 

  

Although both parties have reasons not to extend a ceasefire, and both blame the other for why the ceasefire ended, U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken explicitly blames Hamas for the prematurely broken truce, stating, “It came to an end because of Hamas. Hamas reneged on commitments it made.” Concurrently, Hamas also committed a terrorist attack in Jerusalem in the early hours of Friday, December 1, when two Palestinian gunmen opened fire at a bus stop towards the entrance of Jerusalem, murdering four and wounding six others. 


Shortly before the ceasefire officially ended, hostilities resumed prematurely; with Hamas firing rockets from Gaza. By evening, warning sirens blared throughout central Israel. Israeli officials, such as Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, stated that “Israel will resume “hitting Hamas with full force.” 




Will Israel And Hamas Accept A Permanent Ceasefire Agreement? 


It is hard to predict the road ahead. At this point, Israel continues expanding its ground offensive, warning Gazan civilians in the north and parts of the southern Gaza Strip to evacuate. As this continues, the toll taken on civilian and military lives has exhausted the spirit of both sides.


Meanwhile, diplomatic and public pressure for a complete ceasefire increases across the globe. Since the start of the war, Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza stirred up a wave of protests calling for a ceasefire and a complete halt to the offensive operation. With tens of thousands of citizens taking to the streets, many also argue that Israel’s war is bad for public opinion.  


The UNSC called for another vote for a resolution on December 18th calling for an “urgent and sustainable cessation of hostilities” in Gaza. Like the previous iterations, this Security Council resolution was also introduced by Arab countries. In specific, it was drafted by the United Arab Emirates and ultimately calls for a two-state solution. 


Israeli officials, however, will not stop until their goals are met. Statements from the IDF leaders and representatives reiterate the need for the country to defend itself, dismantle Hamas’s power in the Gaza Strip completely, and return the remaining hostages home safely. 


Israel believes that 129 hostages remain in Gaza (not all of them alive). 


 

Sources


CBS News, Israel & Hamas At War, last updated December 21, 2023 



United Nations Live Stream, East Jerusalem & Palestinian Territories | Emergency UN General Assembly, December 12, 2023 






CNN, Netanyahu rejects calls for ceasefire, October 30, 2023 


 

The Wall Street Journal, Pressure Builds for Gaza Cease-Fire, December 8, 2023 






Associated Press World News, What does the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas look like?, November 24, 2023 








BBC News, Why has the Gaza ceasefire come to an end?, December 1, 2023



Twitter/X, Yoav Gallant Post, December 1, 2023 










YouTube, Israel Defense Forces, The IDF's Robust System For Operational Conduct, December 19, 2023 


 
Jenna Romano

Jenna Romano

Jenna Romano is a writer, editor and blogger. Her writing has been featured in publications such as Telavivian, Jerusalem Post, Ha’aretz, Portfolio, Wix Blog, and more.

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