Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue to decimate Gaza “with full force” following the brief ceasefire. “I want to be clear. The war is continuing,” he said before the pause had even begun.
Agriculture minister Avi Dichter was latest to openly declare Israel’s genocidal intentions, saying, “We are now rolling out the Gaza Nakba.”
Having flattened between 40 and 50 per cent of buildings in northern Gaza, and killing more than 15,000 Palestinians, the next Israeli target is Khan Younis, a city in the Gaza’s south. It is now packed with 700,000 people, half of them displaced from the north.
Israel has shelled the surrounding suburbs of Khan Younis and leafleted residents warning them to evacuate, but there is nowhere to go.
In total more than 1.7 million Palestinians have already been driven from their homes.
Israel has continued to kill Palestinians throughout the pause in Jenin and elsewhere in the occupied West Bank.
Israel also opened fire on people in Gaza trying to return to their homes in the north when the ceasefire began, killing two and wounding 11, confirming fears that Israel wants to permanently expel Palestinians from the north of Gaza.
The trickle of aid—no more than 250 trucks by day three of the ceasefire—is so thin that a humanitarian disaster is inevitable once fighting resumes.
Israel’s goal of eliminating Hamas is still distant. Hamas and its military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, maintain wide popularity amongst Palestinians.
Hamas retains a coherent fighting force and has conducted favourable prisoner exchange negotiations. Israel failed to produce any serious evidence of the “terror facility” that it said justified the siege and then destruction of the Al Shifa hospital.
Even if Israel could destroy Hamas, the scale of its brutality against the Palestinians means than new resistance organisations will inevitably emerge in its place.
It is still unclear what will be left in Gaza once Israel finishes bombing. While the US has suggested the Palestinian Authority be given control of Gaza after the war, Netanyahu has dismissed such an outcome, insisting on direct Israeli “security control” in Gaza for “as long as necessary”.
This would mean Israel continuing to send in troops to raid Gaza whenever it wanted.
Continuing the killing
The US is now publicly suggesting Israel take a more “targeted” approach, that “accounts” for civilians as it continues the war. This is just one of several signs that the global movement for a free Palestine weighs heavily on the minds of the warmongers.
The Arab leaders, however, have continued to betray Palestine and their own people. While Qatar tries to claim credit for brokering the ceasefire, the surrounding Arab states have done nothing beyond issuing statements.
In mid-November they rejected an Iranian proposal for an oil embargo and to cut diplomatic ties with Israel, as well as calls from Algeria to close US bases on their territory, during a summit of 51 Arab and Islamic countries.
They would rather continue to profit from collaborating with the US and Israel than help the Palestinians.
Turkey, despite its talk of support for Hamas, continues to expand trade with Israel, including in steel needed for military purposes.
Even Iran and its allies including Hezbollah have held back from any military support for Gaza.
The risk of Israel sparking a broader regional war has not yet materialised, despite its reckless violence. The US and Israel have both repeatedly bombed Syria since 7 October, killing at least eight soldiers. Israel dropped white phosphorus on Lebanon between 10 and 16 October.
US President Joe Biden could end the atrocities in an instant if he wanted to. This is a genocide underwritten by the US and its allies like the Australian government.
The US has allocated $14.3 billion in additional support to Israel since 7 October, and stationed a second US aircraft carrier strike group in the region, two amphibious navy ships plus thousands of US troops on standby to move to the region if required.
As White House national security spokesperson John Kirby has declared, the US has approved Israel’s genocidal actions, refusing to set “red lines” for Israel.
Nor is there any reliable element of restraint within Israel. Protests from within Israel against Netanyahu have focussed on Israeli hostages to the exclusion of all else, sometimes campaigning against ceasefire and even aid to Gaza.
The temporary ceasefire was secured by the resistance of Hamas and the movement of millions of people around the world demanding an end to Israel’s slaughter. From Egypt to Australia, people are rejecting the system of profit seeking and imperialist alliances that has produced the genocide.
Our protests and pressure on our leaders must escalate—the lives of Palestinians are in the balance.
By Lucy Honan