Published on 22 Nov 2012

Gaza: it’s not an accord, it’s not peace. It’s a ceasefire

Upon waking and drawing back the curtains, some pointers to peace are clear.

You hear the birds – there are no drones. And a new sound to me, another engine, coming clear in to land across the still Mediterranean: fishing boats. They’re out, safe to leave harbour, no Israeli gunboats.

The UN school, overcrowded yesterday with 1,800 Gazans fleeing the bombardment to the north, is today almost empty. A few sweepers at work clearing up in the dusty playground

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Bazaars are reopening or repairing the damage and sometimes doing both, under the gaze of government officials and police now at street corners in uniform.

And the boys are back in town – Hamas fighters, green fatigues, Kalashnikovs and black balaclava faces, emerging from bunkers, tunnels or civilian flats for the first time in more than a week.

Up north – which in the Gaza Strip means a car ride of about 15 minutes if that – all is well for Sabah:

“I’m just shaking all over,” she says as she greets us again in Attatra. “You cannot imagine my joy.”

Less than 24 hours ago we’d filmed her and little Awadh (above right) as they took refuge from the bombing in the UN school in Gaza City.

Now he’s home. He smiles, his flitting unfocused gaze transformed since yesterday when he sat, alone, banging his head on a school desk.

He suffers a serious mental disability, but now on the doorstep of home his brother Mahmoud has an arm round him. Cousin Ihab is gently shelling peanuts and offering them

He is at home again, and at peace.

But all around profound suspicion and scepticism at whether the “peace” can last.

Hamas leaders saying as much today whist calling the people onto the streets in celebration.

They know they can hit Tel Aviv. They know they can function despite losing military leaders.

Equally Israel knows its missile shield is pretty effective for now. It knows it has inflicted a degree of damage.

But everything that was in place to begin the fighting remains there. And Gaza, its government and people remain in the open mass prison of the blockade.

Winners? Look elsewhere, to Cairo and the Boys from the Brotherhood, who’ve been the key brokers in the ceasefire.

But don’t examine the goods too closely or read the fine print.

It’s not an accord.

It’s not peace.

It’s a ceasefire. And many here say a temporary one as things stand.

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5 reader comments

  1. Philip Edwards says:


    There are some pictures you never forget. They speak more than ten thousand words.

    I don’t mind saying the pictures of that little lad banging his head on a desk had me close to tears. Who needs words when you see things like that?

    What a terrible, sick tragedy this is.

    And the truth is – and it will never be forgotten by the Palestinians – the US and Europeans couldn’t really care less what the Israelis do so long as it doesn’t interfere with Western interests. So much for Western “democracy.” Do they REALLY think this will ever be forgotten throughout the Arab and Islamic world? In fact this has been the course run by the West for half a millenium, but it cannot go on for ever. One day the history invoice will fall due, and I dread to think what it will be. Nothing is more certain.

    Meanwhile, we are left with the image of little Awadh burned into our memory. Who needs words?

  2. Y.S. says:

    Israel is winning a PYRRIC victory.
    They deny a two state solution so it becomes a one state solution.
    The Palestinians will be a majority in the future, time is in their favour.
    Israel in always opting for war instead of real peace, they will loose what they have.
    I presume Iran is next, one day a fatal mistake will be made.
    You can win ten wars but loose one and its game over.

  3. Rea Der says:

    Dear Alex Thomson,

    Thanks for your interesting blog that keeps me informed of goings on and sheds light on the reality of people’s lives.

    I was wondering if you had any information on the news reports that Hamas broke the ceasefire within a few hours firing rockets into Israel but Israel decided not to respond. If this is true, why would Hamas or any Palestinians break the ceasfire within such a short time?

    Also, how much action have we actually seen from the USA. It sometimes appears that Egypt was ready to voice opinions and take action very early on in this recent conflict, where as America delayed arriving at the scene and at ceasefire negotiations and yet the USA was also present at the announcing of the ceasfire. I could be wrong, but sometimes it seems as though America is receving credit for essentially arriving at the scene at a fortunate time. Have you any opinions on this and also on what will (if anything) come of the Palestinian bid to the UN?

    Thanks again for being out there and giving people like me the chance to read your blog.

  4. mohamed taha says:

    very eary days but israel is fighting in west bank ,it did not take them long ,they can never stand for peace s they have been fighting for over 60 years ,that is a long time

  5. Marianne Winfield says:

    Hi Alex,
    Every now and then amongst all the horrors of war an iconic moment stands out. The radiant, beautiful face of Sabah as she celebrates the fact that she and her children are still alive
    . “You cannot imagine my joy!” will remain with me.
    As will the pictures of her extraordinarily resilient little boys.
    Thank you so much Alex for your courage and sensitivity for bringing these stories to us. Perhaps it is footage such as yours that has brought about the massive Avaaz support ‘Time for Palestine’ – almost 1,600,000 signatories so far, and still new signers every second.

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