Tuesday, 5 May 2015

‘The Israelis never stopped shooting': Gaza endures under Israel’s one-way ceasefire

From Mondoweiss - Walking through a field of peas in the buffer zone, 60-year-old Palestinian farmer Jaber Abu Rujeila pointed to the fence that demarcates the border with Israel and where military vehicles regularly patrol. “If the jeeps stop, run,” he warned. “They’ll shoot.”

The buffer zone is an Israeli declared no-go land that stretches several hundred meters into Gaza. Anyone who sets foot inside can be fired upon. This includes much of Gaza’s agricultural land, making simple farm labor a potentially deadly mission.

“The Israeli side calls this a ceasefire,” Abu Rujeila remarked. “Every day they shoot at me and then they talk about the ceasefire.”

Tank shells from last summer’s war on Gaza litter his land in al-Faraheen, an area in the village of Khuza’a which was besieged by Israeli forces for ten days last summer. Abu Rujeila’s kitchen and bathroom were destroyed, and today they remain in the condition they were almost a year ago.

For Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the period since last summer’s war has been a one-way ceasefire. While Palestinian armed factions have observed the ceasefire, with a handful of exceptions, Israel has violated the ceasefire on a near-daily basis. Soldiers fire at farmers in the buffer zone, gunboats shoot at fishermen, and warplanes and drones are a regular sight over Gaza’s skies. In the period of January through March of 2015, conservative estimates tallied 67 Israeli shootings and six military incursions, resulting in the death of one Palestinian and injuries to sixteen.

Yet these Israeli ceasefire violations are completely omitted by popular western media coverage, amounting to a de-facto vow of silence. In fact, the silence has become as predictable as the shootings themselves — they are another part of the maintenance of the occupation.

And this media silence has consequences. All signs point to another major military operation in Gaza, and Israeli military and political figures threaten that it will be even more catastrophic than the last. The media silence that cloaks Israeli ceasefire violations serves to portray the next round as defensive in nature — an exercise in Israel’s proclaimed “right to self-defense.”

While Israel gears up for another war, the victims of last summer’s offensive haven’t recovered. After the decimation of neighborhoods like Shujaiya, Palestinian civilians have lived in perpetual crisis. While the Israeli shells that damages or destroyed 100,000 homes have ceased falling, survival in the rubble has been a struggle. more


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