My husband and I watched with relief as a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas went into effect at 2 a.m. Israel-Palestine time on Friday. As I finished cooking dinner at our home in West Palm Beach, Florida, he shared footage with me of Palestinians celebrating in the streets in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Palestinians were hailing the cease-fire as a victory, my husband, who is Palestinian, explained, since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — after initially digging in his heels — had been forced to give up on a military campaign that accomplished next to nothing. Both Hamas as an organization and its individual leaders had survived. Soon, they would be able to reequip for the next inevitable round of fighting.
We’ve both lived through many moments like this before — the cease-fires that bring an immediate cessation of hostilities but accomplish nothing in the long term. Both Israelis and the Palestinians are trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of violence.
When I lived in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories from 2007 to 2014, I personally experienced numerous battles between Israel and Hamas: the 2008-2009 war known as Operation Cast Lead, a couple of brief escalations in 2011, then two more in 2012, including Operation Pillar of Defense, an Israeli military campaign that was launched just weeks after an informal cease-fire.
During Pillar of Defense, for the first time, a Hamas rocket reached Jerusalem, where I lived then. When the siren sounded, there was nowhere to go — my landlord used the bomb shelter for storage — and so I stood in the threshold of my studio apartment in Kiryat HaYovel, guessing that if our building was hit, structures like door frames would remain.
The last escalation I witnessed turned into the horrific and terrifying 2014 summer war known as “Operation Protective Edge.”
Almost all of these escalations — and probably others that my husband and I failed to remember when making the list above — ended with either informal or formal cease-fires. That should tell you everything you need to know about the concept.
Now the latest round of bloodshed has been paused with yet another cease-fire. I’m elated, of course, that the death and destruction wrought by both Israel and Hamas has stopped. But I also feel a sense of dread because I know that both sides are doomed to repeat this cycle unless the core issues are addressed.
Those problems, in my opinion, boil down to a simple concept: equality. Until Israelis and Palestinians have equal rights in the land, we will see cycle after cycle after cycle of violence. Countless escalations with ceasefires that are always temporary, that represent only a break in a never-ending blur of fighting.
Is a cease-fire a cease-fire if the fighting never really ends? /p>