A Ceasefire and Beyond

Tameem Shaltoni is a Palestinian New Zealander, born in Jordan to a family of Palestinian Arab refugees. Here he reflects on the call for a ceasefire in Gaza and what’s next.

For the last ten weeks, tens of thousands of New Zealanders have been marching up and down the streets of this country and chanting in one voice: "Ceasefire now". They have been moved, horrified, and rightly outraged by the thousands upon thousands of Gazans killed in the devastating Israeli assault on Gaza. Israeli air strikes have not only targeted peoples’ homes, but bakeries, hospitals, gardens, schools, universities, the main library, and even Gaza's zoo were directly hit as well.

While Israel is vocal in saying they will carry on the assault for months after the temporary truce which ended three weeks ago, in my opinion, a long-lasting ceasefire will eventually come – and seemingly faster than what Israel, and many people, thought. The reasons I believe a long-lasting ceasefire is imminent are:

  1. The heroism displayed by the Palestinian resistance in not only holding off the Israeli ground invasion, but also in inflicting heavy casualties on Israel’s armoured vehicles and infantry.
  2. Gazan's steadfastness, refusal to leave their towns and neighbourhoods, and the care they have shown in looking after their communities.
  3. The global ceasefire movement, which has put an immense pressure on politicians, governments, the US, and Israel.

The big question at the medium-to-long term is: what will happen after the imminent ceasefire? Are we going back to the status-quo, as it was before October 7?

For the last 17 years, Israel has been subjecting Gaza to an inhumane blockade (i.e. ‘remote’ occupation) in addition to launching destructive wars every few years: 2008/9, 2011, 2014, 2018, 2021, 2022, and the current assault. This is in addition to the West Bank's direct occupation, ever expanding colonies, and discriminative laws. Last year, a report by the UN Human Rights Commission concluded that ending the occupation and discriminatory laws against Palestinians is the key to stopping the “cycle of violence”. While a ceasefire now is important to stop the current killing and destruction in Gaza, without addressing the underlying issues – namely the occupation and discrimination – the chances are that tension will escalate again soon, and we will be repeating the same cycle of alternating between a slow death under occupation and an intensified destruction in devastating war.

The current ceasefire movement is historical in its magnitude, power, and focus. Palestine is in the news round the clock, and people are talking about Palestine on social media, in the streets, at workplaces and at the dinner table. To lose the potential this movement has to make impactful changes when a ceasefire occurs would be a huge loss for Palestine and would mean that Palestinians continue to live under the same conditions that produced the current violence. It would mean all our current passion and effort will be wasted. We can't let that happen.

For 10 weeks we have been outraged and energised, we have been filled with anger and hope at the same time. Let us transform that outrage and hope into a call to demand full justice. Let us channel our energy towards a call to solve the underlying issues, the occupation and apartheid. Let us also continue talking about Palestinians refugees' right to return.

Yes, continue calling for a ceasefire, but in the same breath demand an end to the occupation, apartheid, and dispossession.

Over the last 10 weeks, I have seen so many people talking about Palestine for the first time. If you are one of those people with conscience, firstly: thank you. Secondly: I will not ask where you have been before, but I will ask only that you continue talking about Palestine after the ceasefire and until Palestine is truly free. If so, I promise you, it is all forgiven.

This piece of publishing has been supported by Auckland Pride.

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The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

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