Hostilities on Hold in Fragile Ceasefire
TEL AVIV – INTERNATIONAL – So far the ceasefire is holding. It was off to a rough start as eighteen Palestinians were killed when a shell from an Israeli tank hit their home just as the truce was starting.
Smoke from a further pounding of Gaza hung in the air as a 12-hour truce began on Saturday. It’s a brief humanitarian break in the fighting after Israel and Palestinian militant groups agreed to appeals by the United Nations.
The deaths brought the number of Palestinians killed since the start of the conflict to 881 Palestinians, most of them civilians. Israel has stated that thirty-seven troops and three civilians have died in the same period.
Despite the short truce Israel said it would continue its search for tunnels used by the militants. The military says it’s found 23 since the Gaza offensive began on July 8 and six have so far been destroyed.
United Nations Continues to Call for Peace
The United Nations and its diplomatic partners today called for a seven-day humanitarian ceasefire, as they continue their efforts to bring about an end to the bloodshed and destruction that is tearing apart the lives of so many civilians in Gaza and Israel.
“The people of Gaza have bled enough. They are trapped and besieged in a tiny, densely populated sliver of land, every bit of which is a civilian area,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at a press conference in Cairo. “The Israeli people have been living under the constant fear of Hamas rocket attacks. Tensions are spreading further.
“Surely now, the parties must realise that it is time for them to act,” he added, speaking alongside United States Secretary of State John Kerry, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Hassan Shokry Selim and League of Arab States Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby.
Mr. Ban stressed that solutions must be based on three important pillars, beginning with an immediate end to the fighting.
“We call for a seven-day humanitarian ceasefire, extending over the Eid period, beginning with an extendable 12-hour pause,” he said, referring to the holiday that begins in a couple of days to mark the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
“Second, start talking. There is no military solution to addressing the grievances and all parties must find a way to dialogue,” he continued.
United States Secretary of State John Kerry who’s in Egypt to help push for an end to the fighting, on Friday appealed for a longer truce to coincide with the end of Ramadan.
War is Impacting Children
The United States and Canadian Governments are maintaining strong steadfast support for Israel.
Prime Minister Harper states, “The indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel are terrorist acts, for which there is no justification. It is evident that Hamas is deliberately using human shields to further terror in the region.
“Failure by the international community to condemn these reprehensible actions would encourage these terrorists to continue their appalling actions. Canada calls on its allies and partners to recognize that these terrorist acts are unacceptable and that solidarity with Israel is the best way of stopping the conflict,” continues the Prime Minister.
“Canada is unequivocally behind Israel. We support its right to defend itself, by itself, against these terror attacks, and urge Hamas to immediately cease their indiscriminate attacks on innocent Israeli civilians”, concluded Prime Minister Harper.
The Canadian Government has made no comment on the impact on children and civilians in the Gaza Strip.
“I was watching TV with my cousin…they shot two missiles. I told my cousin: run, run, run!,” says 8-year-old Abdel Majed Abu Maraheel from Gaza City. Abdel was injured in an Israeli missile attack earlier this week.
Sitting with his son in the hospital, Mohammed Khaled Abu Maraheel asks “This child is 8 years old and he has already lived through three wars. When he becomes a young man, how many wars will he experience?”
Children are bearing the brunt of the worsening violence in Gaza and Israel.The violence is taking a shocking toll on children both physically and psychologically, with alarming consequences for future chances of peace, stability and understanding. UNICEF staff on the ground have spoken with families who describe the deep emotional impact that the current violence is having on children – children who are not sleeping or who are having nightmares, children who have stopped eating, and children who are exhibiting harrowing signs of mental distress.
War has impacted vital Infrastructure
FILES: DAILY MOTION / REUTERS / United Nations