Posted By Ahmed Abdullah
May 2, 2008
A huge blast Monday in Gaza
killed a Palestinian family – a mother and four children,
two girls and two boys aged between one and six.
Reuters news agency
cited medical staff saying that another Palestinian civilian
was also killed in the explosion. Several other people were
wounded, some of them critically.
Residents said no fighters
were killed by the blast.
Palestinian sources in Beit
Hanoun blame Israeli tank fire for the massacre. Witnesses
said the family was eating breakfast at the time of the
"I left the house just
moments before to look for one of my children. I heard the
sound of the explosion, and when I returned to the house I
found my wife and my children," said 70-year-old father
Ahmed Abu Maateq, according to the BBC.
"They had been eating
breakfast and my wife had been holding our youngest child in
her hands," he added.
But the Israeli army
disputes the witnesses’ account, claiming that explosives
carried by Palestinian fighters were responsible for the
Either way, the attack
highlights the urgent need for a ceasefire between Hamas and
Israel because it would trigger retaliation from Palestinian
resistance groups, sparking another round of violence that
would lead to more bloodshed in the occupied territories.
Monday’s massacre also
hinders ongoing diplomatic efforts in Egypt to reach a truce
soon. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the
Palestinian Wafa news agency that the incident
"does not serve efforts being exerted to achieve calm, and
it obstructs the peace process".
Despite the violence and
Israel’s failure to take responsibility for the blast,
twelve Palestinian resistance groups agreed to an
Egyptian-mediated Gaza truce proposal on Wednesday.
The deal for an initial
six-month "period of calm" has been accepted by Hamas, which
now rules Gaza, while President Abba’s Fatah party, which
controls the West Bank, has given the negotiations
Last week, Hamas said it was
ready to accept a truce first in Gaza, to be followed six
months later in the occupied West Bank, but stressed the
Israeli blockade of Gaza must be lifted.
But Israel rejects the truce
proposal, claiming that it would only give Hamas and other
Palestinian resistance groups a period of time to rearm.
“No deal whatsoever should
be reached with Hamas," Israel’s Interior Minister, Meir
Sheetrit told public radio on Thursday. "We must break Hamas,
not hold negotiations with them, because their demands are
unacceptable… The armed forces must attack those terrorists
night and day to break their arms and their legs."
In addition to the fresh
rounds of violence between Israel and Hamas, holding a
ceasefire would also be affected by the Palestinians’ deep
rifts that divide the Hamas-run Gaza from the Fatah-controlled
West Bank, according to an article on the Christian
According to an official
involved in the mediation between the two rival parties,
Hamas’ main condition of a ceasefire is that Israel opens
all crossings into Gaza, especially the Rafah crossing with
But Israel wouldn’t meet
this demand without the involvement of the Palestinian
Authority and the security forces loyal to President Abbas,
said the official, who demanded anonymity.
Another way in which the
Fatah-Hamas divide encumbers any ceasefire agreement with
Israel is the question of whether a ceasefire would apply to
the occupied West Bank.
Hamas has said in the past
year that some of its rocket attacks on Israel were in
retaliation for Israel’s incursions and arrests of
Palestinians in the West Bank. This indicates that Hamas
regards all Israeli actions, whether in Gaza or the West
Bank, as a provocation and a legitimate reason for
But Israel refuses to halt
its military operations in the West Bank, using the same
excuse it claims would prevent a truce in Gaza: the
rearmament of Palestinian resistance groups.
- “No national
unity, no truce”
Ziad Abu Amar, a Palestinian
political analyst and former cabinet minister in Gaza,
believes that any ceasefire agreement wouldn’t be reached
before a Palestinian national reconciliation deal.
"I don't think we can talk
seriously about a truce or opening the crossings without a
Palestinian national reconciliation deal, and I don't see
that happening right way, " Dr. Abu Amar told the
Christian Science Monitor.
"In the absence of a more
comprehensive agreement of national reconciliation, the risk
of having such a deal collapse remains higher. In order for
it to succeed, it needs to be built on national
"But it's too complicated to
include all these issues, ending the siege and agreeing to
the truce, without involving the PA in Ramallah and Abbas.
And if this is the case, we're back to Square One,” he
All the current developments
point to another troubled period in the occupied
territories. Unless each side agrees to accept comprises,
the status quo will remain and the bloodshed would continue.