Israeli Occupation and Ceasefire: A Citizen’s Perspective

When the clock struck 2:00 this Friday morning, Israel and Hamas announced a Gaza ceasefire. But is that enough for the Palestinians?

From The Eyes Of Palestinians: The horror of the Israeli Occupation and the hesitation of accepting the Ceasefire.

 

“The United States fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks from Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist groups that have taken the lives of innocent victims in Israel,” President Biden says while addressing the announcement of the ceasefire friday morning.

While this may boil the blood of not only the native Palestinians but a large part of the world, Core Middle East brings to you a citizen’s perspective on the Israeli Occupation and the Gaza Ceasefire.

What was the current incident? 

It’s not the first time that Palestinians have felt captured and helpless on their own land by Israeli forces. While this historical tension lasted for decades, the present-day premeditated attack on Palestine  unfolded during the start of RAMADAN, the holy month for Muslims.

Khazir (name changed) 28, says he lost his classmate Nidal Safadi; 30, in the current attacks, while protecting his neighbourhood from the settlers. He continued to say that the settlers are protected by the Israeli army, during the clash between the settlers and the protesters, gunshots were fired and Nidal lost his life.

Whilst the tensions between the two were angled on an increase, this intensified on the 8th May, when the police cracked down on the worshippers on the holiest night of Ramada at Old City’s  Damascus Gate in  East Jerusalem.

Thousands of people were praying at the al-Aqsa mosque, while the Israeli police used weapons and brutality like water cannon, rubber bullets, tear gas and the protesters then started throwing stones.

Khazir tells Core Middle East, such crackdowns of Army on the Palestinian citizens is quite common in this neighbourhood and that over the last 10 years, “I have lost about five classmates in similar conflicts and two of them were shot dead while they were protecting their own land.”

Right: Nidal in the hospital after being shot; Left: Nidal during Ramadan, photo provided by Khazir to Core Middle East.

The unrest grew as the Israeli Supreme Court postponed the hearing of the case of dispossession of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah, leaving them with the fear of becoming homeless.

On 10th May, the early morning saw violent repression from the Israeli forces as they threw flash bombs and stun grenades again on the worshippers at Al Aqsa and then the retaliation happened.

Dalia, a 22-year-old student says, “my first experience of the occupation was at the age of three, when Israeli forces barged into my house, looking for something that they couldn’t find. My father was taken at gunpoint, while a large number of my family was put in one room for days. I have seen guns pointing at us every day. Nothing and no one was able to make me feel safe.”

She adds that just yesterday (18th May) they lost four residents of their neighbourhood, and sternly rebukes the idea of stating the current situation as a “‘conflict’, it is an occupation… they want to get rid of Palestinians, this is ethnic cleansing”

Fadi Najeh Hasan Eshtayeh,  A music teacher, shares his deep sorrow on losing one of his students, Malik Hamdan, 22, who was martyred as a result of protesting to save his land.

Eshtayeh expresses his emotions with CME saying,  “on May 15, 2021, 4 am, I am writing this because I can’t sleep. Today I witnessed the martyrdom of the son of my hometown, Malik Hamdan, Malik was my student at the Music Center in my village Salem, one of the best students I had. He liked to play musical instruments.

Malik grew up and his dreams grew up with him, but I did not expect that the last moments of his life would be at the hands of an Israeli soldier who killed his dreams before killing him. Malik did not pose a threat to anyone throughout his life, he was kind to everyone and socialized with everyone in his village, I was watching today and Malik certainly did not mean any harm to the life of the Israeli soldier who killed him calmly and coldly. He shot him and went into the military jeep as if he hadn’t done anything.

When I saw your mother crying on your body today, all the blood in my body gushed into my head and I was unable to breathe or speak. Malik you will remain in my memory forever. I hope that your soul rests in peace.

I will not forget that you were beautiful in your life and in your death as well.”

Malik Hamdan, 22 provided by Fadi Najeh Hasan Eshtayeh to CME.

 

The announcement of the Ceasefire.

After the brutal airstrikes from Israel hit Gaza, the largest city of Palestine, the martyrdom toll reached 232 civilians as of 21st May 2021 (Gaza Health Ministry). The world not only witnessed but also resisted this horror. As of friday morning, a feeling of relief blooms amongst all as Israeli’s PM Netanyahu and Gaza’s Hamas have announced a ceasefire.

The Egyptian-mediated ceasefire took place at 2:00 am on Friday after 11 days of severe violence. As the truce was announced hours before it was implemented, both countries gave their last effort to the attack, Palestinian rocket salvoes continued while Israel carried out at least one airstrike.

Khazir stated that this war is a lost cause for Israel – “shame on one of the biggest militaries equipped with the most modern weapons; supported by big economic systems of the West, such as the US and EU.”

Celebration in Gaza as the ceasefire is announced: New York Times.

 

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) stated that while a  Hamas official told an associate press that this ceasefire is seen as a ‘victory’ for Palestinians and crowds of Palestinians gathered at night in celebration and defeat for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, some citizens may still be sceptical about it.

Fariq (name changed) 27, says  “after witnessing this (occupation) from my own eyes, this ‘unconditional’ ceasefire sounds like a trick for a horrid future, all I wish is that I am wrong here. Save my land, save my country, and save my people.”

Similarly, the ceasefire was not the aim of the protestors, other issues such as displacement and destruction, which were the original fear of Palestinians are yet to be addresed.  Dalia says “it has not been decided to cancel the displacement of people from their houses in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, the decision was only postponed and Gaza is still under blockade, and their losses are massive, so the ceasefire has only solved a small part of the struggle.”

Despite bearing the brunt of the constant conflicts between Israel and Palestine, the citizens wish to eventually attain independence, which some say, they may not be able to see in their lifetime.

(Disclaimer: Some citizens have requested to protect their identity for safety reasons)

 

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