After the Israeli cabinet unanimously spurned a US-proposed ceasefire, they agreed to a partial pause of their attack on the Gaza Strip for 12 hours. The last “humanitarian ceasefire” Israel agreed to was followed immediately by a dramatic escalation of the war.
This time may be no different, as Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is warning troops to be prepared for a “significant expansion” of the ongoing invasion of Gaza “very soon.”
Israel has been pounding the strip for two weeks now, with the death toll soaring to over 1,047 Gazans killed, overwhelming civilians and roughly 24% of them children under the age of 18. Over 6,000 Gaza residents have been wounded.
On the Israeli side, by contrast, the deaths are almost exclusively among attacking soldiers, with 43 now reported killed overall, 40 of them soldiers. This includes the previously missing soldier, who Israeli military forces reported dead today.
Exactly what the goal of the 12-hour “pause” is remains unclear, though speculation is that the Gaza civilians, mostly trapped in their homes, will use the opportunity to stock up on food and water, to the extent relief agencies have been able to bring it in.
The World Food Program has reported bringing in emergency food aid for about 160,000 people, but with more than 200,000 people internally displaced, and virtually the entire economy of Gaza, a strip of well over 1 million people, ground to a halt by war, that barely puts a dent in the need.