Israel Started It: Israel’s (Long) History of Breaking Ceasefires

(28 July 2014)

While the present conflict in Israel-Palestine rages on (one, like usual, Israel started), the US corporate media continues to rehash old, worn-out myths about Israel supposedly being on the side of peace and Palestinians supposedly opposing it. The US mainstream press obediently echoes unsubstantiated hasbara propaganda, blaming Hamas for the violence.

This present “conflict” (I don’t like that term; it’s a euphemism—this is a massacre of Gaza, not a “conflict”) itself, however, is a prime example of Israel’s historic trend of culpability. Two lone criminals (it has been confirmed by Israeli police that it was definitely a lone cell that was responsible) kidnap three Israeli settler teens outside of an illegal, racially segregated settlement in the occupied West Bank. Israel, without a single shred of evidence, blames the kidnappings on Hamas (i.e., blatantly lies). It then proceeds to arrest, injure, and even kill Palestinians in the West Bank, claiming to do so as part of its “search” for the kidnapped settler teens—although it already knows they are dead (i.e., once again, blatantly lies to justify its crimes). It sacks homes and offices; it collectively punishes the entire population for a crime only two lone criminals committed. Naturally, Palestinians respond to the violence. Israel barbarously bombs Gaza, one of the most densely populated strips of land on the planet, slaughtering Palestinians with an approximately 80% civilian rate. It then begins a ground invasion of the small strip, and the death toll rises to, as of 27 July, over 1,000.

We shouldn’t think this is atypical. If anything, the horror that has been Operation “Protective” Edge (ahem, Operation Offensive Edge) is the modus operandi of Israeli policy.

And yet the US continues to spread the beyond ridiculous rumor that Hamas “started it,” and that Israel is acting in “self-defense.” The US corporate media insists Israelis are the one who supposedly want peace, even while polls show %87 of Israelis oppose a ceasefire (and less than 10% support a ceasefire).

Let’s take a brief look at Israel’s supposed “self-defense” throughout history then, shall we. The Institute for Middle East Understanding’s (IMEU’s) excellent article “Self-defense or provocation: Israel’s history of breaking ceasefires” serves as a good jumping off point, much of which I draw from here. In all, we will see that Israel has almost never been on the side of “peace” (as if peace is even possible under illegal military occupation—which has been going on since 1967—or violent, racist settler colonialism—which has been going on since 1947):

  • On 23 November 2012, Israel broke a two-day-long U.S.-brokered ceasefire, killing a 20-year-old Palestinian and injuring 10 others at the border as they tried to access their farmland.
  • On 14 November 2012, Israel broke a ceasefire by bombing a car carrying Ahmed Jabari, the leader of Hamas’ military wing, and a passenger. This truce violation starts the bloody Operation Pillar of Cloud, in which approximately 100 Palestinian civilians are killed and 1,000 injured.

Visualizing Palestine released a fantastic infographic illustrating Israeli violations vis-à-vis Palestinian violations from November 2012 to July 2014. One can get a pretty clear impression of who is culpable from the illustration the data. (In case the Excel file with the data is ever deleted, I have also backed it up here.)

Israeli vs Palestinian Ceasefire Violations

  • On 9 March 2012, Israel broke an Egypt-brokered ceasefire, murdering Zuhair al-Qaissi, the head of the Popular Resistance Committees, leading to the death of over 20 more Palestinians.
  • On 30 October 2011, a day later, Israel broke another ceasefire, this time brokered by Egypt. In these two days, nine Palestinians and one Israeli are murdered.
  • On 5 November 2008, Israel broke a four-month-long ceasefire, leading to Israel’s horrific Operation Cast Lead, in which around 1,400 Palestinians are killed, and the use of the illegal chemical weapon white phosphorous is included among Israel’s many crimes against humanity.

And these are just in recent years. IMEU lists numerous more, going all the way back to the very founding of Israel.

To quickly recap, Israel broke major ceasefires in:

  • November 2012,
  • March 2012,
  • 2011,
  • 2008,
  • July 2002,
  • January 2002,
  • November 2001,
  • July 2001,
  • 1988,
  • 1982,
  • 1981,
  • 1973,
  • 1967,
  • 1956,
  • 1949,

and probably more.