Deputy secretary-general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Ziad al-Nakhaala said on Aug. 11 that a long-term ceasefire that would include the lifting of the siege on Gaza would be announced soon, stressing that "great progress" had been made in negotiations. The announcement, which comes on the first day of a five-day ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants, raises hopes that a long-term truce will materialize after more than two weeks of negotiations that have so far yielded few results. The breakthrough comes after Israel reportedly dropped its demand that Palestinian militant groups inside Gaza disarm, while apparently acceding to demands by the Palestinian delegation that the eight-year long economic blockade of the Strip be lifted.
A total of five Latin American governments had recalled their ambassadors to Israel as of July 29 in an escalation of diplomatic protests against an operation the Israeli military had been carrying out in the Palestinian territory of Gaza since July 8. With the Palestinian death toll passing 1,500—including more than 300 children—centrist and even rightwing Latin American governments started joining left and center-left government in distancing themselves from the main US ally in the Middle East.
Elie Wiesel—yet again—seems to find himself on the wrong side, this time in a full-page ad he took out in US newspapers (PDF), problematicallly entitled: "Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,500 years ago. Now it's Hamas' turn." Offering no evidence for the accusation, he writes: "I call upon President Obama and the leaders of the world to condemn Hamas' use of children as human shields." This formula of course gives Israel a blank check to kill Palestinian children, while blaming Hamas for using them as "shields." And while the statement invokes co-existence and a shared Abrahamic heritage with the Palestinians, it does so in utterly hypocritical terms. In his penultimate paragraph, Wiesel writes: "And I enjoin the American public to stand firmly with the people of Israel who are in yet another struggle for survival, and with the suffering people of Gaza who reject terror and embrace peace." Note the subtlety of the propaganda. We are admonished to stand with "the people of Israel" (presumably, all of them), who are engaged in a "struggle for survival." Whereas, we are told to stand with "the suffering people of Gaza who reject terror and embrace peace"—this after a lecture about the Gazans using their children as "shields." So presumably, we are only to "stand with" those Gazans who reject their own leaders. No such conditions are placed on the Israeli side—on the contrary, the Israeli war is legitimized as a "struggle for survival." There is no acknowledgement of a "struggle for survival" in Gaza—with over 1,500 dead, 200,000 displaced, whole neighborhoods reduced to rubble, and thousands without water or electricity.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on July 31 urged the international community to end what she called a "climate of impunity" around the Israel-Palestine conflict. In light of the bombardment of a UN school in Gaza the previous day, Pillay called for "real accountability considering the increasing evidence of war crimes and an ever-growing number of civilian casualties, including some 250 children."
An Israeli military offensive on the Palestinian territory of Gaza starting on July 8 has brought widespread condemnation from governments and activists in Latin America. The response to the current military action, which is codenamed "Operation Protective Edge," follows a pattern set during a similar December 2008-January 2009 Israeli offensive in Gaza, "Operation Cast Lead," when leftist groups and people of Arab descent mounted protests and leftist and center-left governments issued statements sharply criticizing the Israeli government.
Israel resumed its bombardment of the Gaza Strip for the 20th day on July 27, as Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal stressed that the group was ready to "coexist with the Jews" but would not tolerate "occupiers." The Israeli assault on Gaza continued after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to renew a ceasefire agreed to earlier in the day after he claimed Palestinian militants had violated earlier truces. At least two Palestinians were killed and dozens injured in Israeli airstrikes and shelling from land and sea that evening, as the total Palestinian toll in the deadly assault hit 1,032 with more than 6,200 injured. Israeli forces have also killed 11 Palestinians in solidarity protests across the West Bank.
Some 7,000 gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square July 26 in the largest Israeli protest against the bombardment of Gaza thus far. Slogans included "Stop the war," "Bring the soldiers back home," and "Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies." Several hours before the demonstration was slated to begin, police announced that it was canceled for fear of rocket fire, but it was given the green light when news broke that the ceasefire would be extended. The protest was called by the left-wing Hadash political party and the organizations Combatants for Peace and Parents Circle Families Forum. The more prominent Meretz left-wing party and Peace Now anti-war group opted not to take part in the rally.
The Israeli army on July 26 warned Palestinians who have fled their homes since the beginning of the ground assault not to return, stressing that the army would not hesitate to use force against them. The warning came as thousands returned to see the area and remove their possessions from destroyed homes, amid a 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire set to expire at 8 PM. The Israeli army's Arabic-language spokesman Avichay Adraee said in a statement that those who stayed on in the neighborhood past the end of the ceasefire would be