Gaza Ceasefire

Gaza Ceasefire
On August 5, 2014, a 72-hour ceasefire between Hamas and Israeli forces, brokered by Egypt, went into effect in Gaza. Fighting continued right up until the 8:00 a.m. deadline but thankfully, the truce was honored in the end. Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza little by little until at last all of their troops were out.

Fighting between Palestinians and Israelis has been going on for many years, but this particular event was triggered by the actions of members of extremist Palestinian group Hamas, who targeted and killed three Israeli youths in the West Bank on June 10, 2014. Israel retaliated by killing a Palestinian youth in Jerusalem. After this attack, Hamas responded by launching rockets into Israel, and Israel retaliated by launching rockets into Gaza.

Once the ceasefire took effect, displaced civilians took the opportunity to return to their homes--or what’s left of them, anyway. They were finally free to wander the streets and assess the terrible damage that had been done. The month-long conflict had seen the deaths of at least 1,800 Palestinians (over 400 of them children) and 67 Israelis. There had been attempts to make peace throughout this conflict but they were unsuccessful; leaders were hopeful that this time around, the truce would be successful and the fighting would end.

Both sides of the conflict entered into negotiations in Cairo on August 6, 2014. Representatives from each side and mediators from Egypt had a series of talks to find a way to keep the peace.

Going into the negotiations, each side had clear goals in mind. Palestinians wanted an end to the blockade of Gaza, and Israel desired for Hamas to disarm; something they seemed to be unwilling to do. Because of this, it seemed unlikely that Israel would be willing to end the blockade of Gaza. As the negotiations went underway and the talks began, it surfaced that Hamas had another demand: the release of their prisoners, something else that Israel seemed unwilling to do. Israel was, however, prepared to extend the ceasefire, although Hamas did not at that time consent to that.

Unfortunately, the negotiations were unsuccessful, and on August 8, 2014, the air strikes resumed as the ceasefire expired, forcing thousands of people to leave their homes once again and return to UN shelters.

It remains to be seen what will happen in the coming weeks and months. There is still hope; a new ceasefire began on August 10, 2014 and negotiations are set to begin on August 11, 2014. But if these two groups can’t come to some kind of compromise, there’s no doubt that the fighting will continue indefinitely.

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