Peace given a chance

August 28, 2014 - 1:47:46 am

After weeks of death and devastation, an enduring truce will benefit both Israel and Palestine.

Giving peace a chance, Israel and Palestine have agreed to a long-term ceasefire putting an end to the longest, bloodiest battle either side has seen in years.As part of the immediate steps in the current deal, Hamas and other groups in Gaza have agreed to halt all rocket and mortar fire into Israel. Israel has agreed to stop all military action including air strikes and ground operations.

After the agreement, both sides are trying to prove they have emerged victorious.But the bitter truth is that humanity has lost with hundreds of innocents killed and maimed.

The war left 2,139 Palestinians dead, according to Gaza health officials, with most being civilians, including 490 children. On the Israeli side, 64 soldiers and six civilians were killed.The financial impact of the war is huge. Palestinian officials estimate reconstruction costs to be close to $6bn. 

A UN official, Robert Serry, has said 16,800 houses were destroyed or damaged in the conflict, along with 108 UN facilities. Some 250 factories were also destroyed.

The scars of war will haunt civilians for long. Thousands of families who had sheltered with relatives or in schools will now return to their flattened homes. 

Northern and eastern areas of Gaza that saw the most intense fighting during the war, now bear a ravaged look with homes badly damaged or destroyed.

Diplomats on the negotiation table will have to be wise and patient because history has shown that peace treaties between Israel and Palestine have always been fragile with peace talks, most of time, falling apart and both sides holding each other responsible for failures. 

The current agreement marks the first ceasefire since the current conflict began last month that is not limited to a set time period. The longest of the previous nine ceasefires had a term of five days, and all but three truces broke down before reaching their full duration.

As part of the current deal, both sides have agreed to address more complex issues — including the release of Palestinian prisoners and Gaza’s demands for a sea port — via further indirect talks starting within a month. 

In a positive development after the truce, Egypt eased restrictions at the Rafah border crossing with Gaza, allowing World Food Program supplies containing a shipment of 25,000 food parcels into the coastal territory for the first time since 2007.

If both sides are able to respect the truce for longer, more such humanitarian efforts will take place. 

It took just seven months for a war to destroy cities and homes but it will take decades to bring normalcy to Gaza. So it is high time that both sides give peace a chance•