Cease-fire Remains Tenuous
The Challenges of Rebuilding and Brokering a Just Peace
By Salena Tramel
January 28th, 2009
For the most part, Gaza has been quiet for the past 10 days. News coverage from the region has faded from headlines as direct conflict between Hamas and the Israeli military halted in the eve of President Barack Obama's inauguration and the subsequent transitions of power.
Although the people of Gaza are mostly safe from direct violence at this time, indirect violence plagues nearly every area of their lives as they struggle to meet their basic needs such as shelter, food, and water. A consultant to Grassroots International, Safa Joudeh recently described the situation on the ground and efforts to get back to "normal" in the wake of the War on Gaza.
The nature of the present cease-fire severely complicates the challenges of rebuilding. The Israeli side chose to implement a unilateral cease-fire, meaning that the Palestinians did not have a say in the terms. This translates to Israel maintaining control of Gaza's maritime and land borders. (The only other way to get goods and people in and out is via the tunnels at the Egyptian border which were bombed this morning.) Even though some aid has reached Gaza, the demand far surpasses what Israel allows passage.
Future agreements must include an end to the blockade and ensuing siege of Gaza, including open borders that allow the flow of people, aid and commerce. Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj of Grassroots International's grantee Gaza Community Mental Health Program described the gravity of the blockade in a Los Angeles Times op-ed written weeks before the military campaign began.
Not only will opening the borders provide a lifeline for the people of Gaza, but it will also pave the way towards peace with justice between Israel and the Palestinians. Anything less would be treating only the symptoms of Gaza's troubles and fail once more to recognize some of their origins.