The Ceasefire Agreement between Israel and Palestine
Following a rise in attacks on their respective territories, Israel and Palestine have agreed to a ceasefire
By Rohan Kudva
In 2005, although Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, conditions there for the Palestinians remain difficult, particularly because the external borders of the Gaza Strip are controlled by Israel. Israel patrols the surrounding land and water in order to protect itself from Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist militant group that controls the Gaza strip. While the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), the group that controls the West Bank, has made peace with Israel, Hamas is bent on destroying the state of Israel. Additionally, Jerusalem is divided into two parts - West Jerusalem, being Israeli territory, and East Jerusalem, being Palestinian territory but occupied by Israel. Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be theirs, contradicting the global view that Jerusalem is not fully Israeli territory.
On April 13, 2021, Israeli police severed the loudspeaker cables used for announcing the ritual call to prayer by raiding the Haram Al-Sharif, so that the Yom HaZikaron speech being given by the President of Israel would not be disturbed. This incident was not condemned internationally. Soon after, the Israeli police blocked access to the Damascus Gate, where Muslim worshippers gather during Ramadan. This action led to protests.
On April 15, a video of a Palestinian teen slapping a Jewish man went viral, resulting in similar incidents. The next day, Israeli police imposed a 10,000 person limit on prayers at the Al Aqsa mosque. Rockets from Gaza started falling on Israel on April 15 and continued from April 23-25 and the violence escalated on May 10. In all, nearly 4,000 rockets were fired from Gaza, leading to the deaths of 10 Israelis. Retaliatory, Israeli airstrikes killed 256 Palestinians. This violence was internationally condemned by both many individual nations, as well as collectively by the United Nations.
Initial attempts by several countries and the United Nations to secure a United Nations Security Council declaration were resisted by the US because of a perceived bias against Israel. At first, efforts by Egypt, Qatar, and the UN were not successful. On May 13, Hamas made a ceasefire offer to Israel which was rejected. On May 14, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a ceasefire. He said,
“Out of respect for the spirit of Eid, I appeal for an immediate de-escalation and cessation of hostilities in Gaza and Israel. Too many innocent civilians have already died. This conflict can only increase radicalization and extremism in the whole region”.
On May 20, a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas was brokered by Egypt, Qatar, and the United Nations, with the support of the United States. President Biden said,
“The US fully supports Israel's right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks from Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist groups. The Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and democracy.”
The ceasefire came into effect at 2:00 AM on May 21. There have been no major violations since that time.
Update: Several weeks after coming into effect, the ceasefire still holds. However, Israel has still fired dozens of missiles into Palestine, killing at least 36. The ceasefire still stands in this situation because the original terms only stated that Israel only halt and pull out all operations in Palestinian territory, not that they couldn't launch any remote attacks. Tensions remain present, but the original ceasefire as of July 1st still stands.
Map showing the proximity between the Western Wall, where the Yom HaZikaron speech was being delivered, and the Haram Al-Sharif, where the cables were cut. Picture courtesy of bu.edu.