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Gaza Ceasefire Collapses; What Should We Do Now?

The ceasefire has collapsed in Gaza, and this is terrible news. Here are some things we can do to help.

The Gaza ceasefire has collapsed, the New York Times reports.

This is terrible news, obviously, and there is no reason to belabor why, for anyone following the news.

However, there are three positive, important things to report.

Good news #1: it seems likely that the collapse of the ceasefire was probably, at least initially, an accident.

From the bottom of the New York Times article [my emphasis]:

Regarding the suspected capture of a soldier on Friday, Amos Yadlin, a former chief of Israel’s military intelligence directorate, said, “I think that what happened here is that the details of the cease-fire were not sufficiently clarified.”

In an interview with Israel Radio, Mr. Yadlin said the Israeli military would not leave Gaza until it completed the destruction of the tunnels, even during a cease-fire. “It is not completely clear to me if this was clear to Hamas,” he said.

Mr. Yadlin, who now directs the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, also said it was possible that the militants who emerged from the tunnel on Friday were cut off and did not know of the cease-fire. “In the absence of any command and control, “he said, “it could be that they emerged to commit a ‘preset’ attack that it had prepared earlier.”

This is the former head of Israeli military intelligence. Not a “Hamas apologist,” as it were.

This was my first thought when I heard the news on the radio this morning: how do the guys in the tunnel know there’s a ceasefire? It’s not like they can check for a text on their cell phone. If my cell phone doesn’t work on the Washington Metro, how would it work in a Hamas tunnel in Gaza? Moreover, Hamas operatives clearly have to operate with some degree of operational autonomy in order to evade Israeli military intelligence: if everything were communicated electronically, those communications would be hacked.

Good news #2: We now have an even clearer picture of how this ends. U.S. diplomacy is clearly organized around the original Egyptian ceasefire proposal, with, it seems safe to presume, side understandings with Hamas via Turkey and Qatar. That means that this ends with a ceasefire and talks in Cairo. Note that the entire Palestinian leadership, including Abbas, Fatah, and the PLO, not just Hamas, has signed off on the demand to end the blockade of Gaza in the Cairo talks.

Good news #3: We have more time to organize. Everyone in the world who wants to end the blockade of Gaza should have a plan in place to put ending the blockade at the top of the international agenda so that when the ceasefire starts we don’t have to brainstorm from scratch what our response should be. We can start implementing the plan before the ceasefire.

So: let’s brainstorm what the plan should be that is in place before the ceasefire starts and starts even before the ceasefire starts. I’ll start.

Idea: let’s have a daily Twitter storm against the blockade, for 15 minutes, at the same time every day, 12 noon Eastern Time, starting Friday. This would allow many people in North America and Europe (including Turkey) to easily participate; these are the time zones where the most crucial governments are. Let’s spread the idea around the world that at this time every day you get on Twitter and join the storm, in whatever language you want, until the talks conclude with an agreement that ends the blockade. Let’s focus on how many people around the world participate in the storm each day. Let’s use the same hashtag each day, and try to make that the hashtag for hammering on the blockade during the talks.

I propose: #EndGazaBlockadeInCairo.

In the twitter storm, people will tweet out whatever petition they want against the blockade. I’ll be tweeting this one.

Let’s use the twitter storm to tweet out Rep. Keith Ellison’s Washington Post op-ed against the blockade so that the world knows that at least one Member of the U.S. Congress has called for ending the Gaza blockade. Let’s try to get other Members of Congress to make supportive statements against the blockade and tweet those out, even if they are wimpier than Rep. Ellison’s op-ed (such as, “the blockade should be addressed in the negotiations.”)

Idea: Let’s have social media badges etc. that are adapted to key governments and leaders. Obama: make sure the Cairo agreement ends the Gaza blockade. Cameron, Ban, the Turks, the Qataris.

Idea: Let’s have a global civil society mobilization in and directed at Cairo. Let’s pressure a group of high-profile former United Nations officials to go to Cairo and be a voice for global civil society at (i.e. near) the talks.

Everyone who wants to end the blockade should join the brainstorm. Free your mind from the disabling assumption that someone is in charge of this: no one is in charge. We are all anarchists now. Take action – whatever action you want, here’s mine – to put “End the blockade of Gaza” at the top of the international agenda before the conclusion of the Cairo talks.

See you on Twitter!

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