Gaza: Does ceasefire mean de-escalation?
Following a weekend of missile strikes from the Gaza Strip and retaliation by the Israeli army that left more than twenty dead and hundreds wounded, the two sides have managed to agree to a ceasefire under Egyptian mediation. But none of the commentators interpret the ceasefire as a sign that there might be an end in sight to the conflict.
Missiles will soon be flying again
It would be wrong to regard the ceasefire as a success or cause for celebration, comments Večer:
“The Palestinians in Gaza, two million people penned up in 400 square kilometres of land, have had enough of the permanent Israeli blockades in their enclave, just as Israel has had enough of the constant provocations by Hamas extremists. There is no sign of a solution. Israel's long-term prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu sees the Palestinian territories in Gaza and the West Bank as legitimate Israeli territory, and with US president Donald as his main ally he can do whatever he likes. ... No one asks the Palestinians any more. The Arab world has given up on them and their biggest financial patron, the EU, is too wrapped up in its own problems. So we shouldn't wonder if missiles start flying out of Gaza again soon.”
Wailing sirens not good for ESC
Hamas and Islamic Jihad planned their attacks cleverly, columnist Davide Frattini explains in Corriere della Sera:
“The fundamentalist leaders know that Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu doesn't want the conflict to escalate. Because in mid-May the Eurovision Song Contest is being held in Tel Aviv. War, missiles and sirens resounding throughout the Mediterranean city would put a rapid end to the musical event. A victory for Hamas. ... The strategy of the [Israeli] prime minister is still about maintaining the status quo. ... For him, Hamas' control of Gaza guarantees that the Palestinian factions remain divided, which means that a comprehensive peace agreement recedes into the distance. But Netayahu is prepared to make concessions because he wants to avoid an all-out conflict.”
Palestinians have lost their advocates
Helsingin Sanomat laments the lack of international interest in the situation in Gaza:
“In the past such events would have provoked strong reactions, the Arab countries would have protested against the airstrikes and the US would have quickly intervened to save the Middle East peace process. But now the situation has changed. Certainly, the Arab countries are expressing their support for the Palestinians verbally, but in Saudi Arabia's case at least, the main focus is the anti-Iran front, and there it shares many interests with Israel. The US has failed to come up with a real peace plan during Trump's presidency and is sticking to a case-by-case approach that mainly serves its own domestic interests. This is why the events in Gaza are being registered but there is no pressure to stop the spiralling violence.”