On Thursday afternoon, Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced that both Israel and Hamas had agreed to a 72-hour “unconditional humanitarian ceasefire.” Three days of peace would allow aid workers to provide food and medical assistance to those in need. The quiet would also create desperately needed political space to make the temporary truce stick.
But the truce did not last for more than 90 minutes after it went into effect on Friday morning before Israel alleged that Hamas militants used a tunnel near Rafah to kill two IDF soldiers and capture a third. Both sides immediately began exchanging mortar and rockets, indicating that the tense ceasefire, which lasted just one and a half hours, was over.
While Israel suffered two casualties this morning, The New York Times reports that Gaza health officials believe 35 Palestinians were killed on Friday and over 100 injured in Israel’s retaliation. Israel was allowed in the terms of this ceasefire to continue to clear and deconstruct the Hamas tunnels in Gaza. One such operation likely resulted in the conflict with a Hamas cell which shattered the fragile peace.
The United Nations released a statement cautioning that they are not in a position to confirm either side’s claims. The statement was clear though that, if Israel’s allegations were confirmed, “this would constitute a serious violation of the ceasefire in place since 8 a.m. this morning by Gazan militant factions which should be condemned in the strongest terms.” White House Press Sec. Josh Earnest, issuing similar caveats about the need to independently confirm Israel’s allegation, called Hama’s violation of the terms of this ceasefire “barbaric.”
Don’t expect that condemnation from the press. While the rest of the world woke this morning to yet another ceasefire allegedly violated by Hamas militants, the media awoke to a weepy appeal in The Guardian for reporters to shed their objectivity while covering the conflict in Gaza and emote instead.
“I want the paper to write, in big bold capital letters: we hate this fucking stupid pointless war,” Giles Fraser wrote. “I know, I know: this sort of emotion is not going to solve anything. But in the midst of unimaginable suffering, the idea of calm objectivity feels like a desperate attempt to maintain some thin veneer of civilisation protecting us from the total futility of it all.”
Being calmly rational about dead children feels like a very particular form of madness. Whatever else journalistic objectivity is, it surely cannot be the elimination of human emotion. If we don’t recognise that, we are not describing the full picture.
Perhaps an ounce of that emotional outburst should be devoted to condemning those parties that keep this “pointless war” going. Hamas has lost legitimacy with nearly every Arab state. It is the thorn in the side of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority. The terror group is a pariah in the world. Its last remaining legitimacy is derived from a Western media culture and the moral equivalencies it constructs in order to maintain the fiction that Israel is as culpable for the present hostilities as are the terrorists in Gaza.