Response to Call for a Permanent Ceasefire in Gaza

In calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, a university student council should first be informed that Hamas started the war in Gaza on Oct. 7 by massacring about 1,200 innocent Israeli civilians and kidnapping about 240 others. The student council might commend Israel for its refusal to mimic Hamas by taking innocent Palestinian civilians hostage for the sole purpose of exchanging them for the surviving Israeli hostages who have been hidden from the outside world for over six months.

A permanent ceasefire would enable Hamas to survive as the government of Gaza, rebuild its strength, and make good on its promise to repeat the Oct. 7 massacre at every opportunity. To defend its citizens, Israel has endeavored to destroy the military capability of Hamas. To achieve this goal, Israel cannot avoid unintentionally causing civilian casualties in Gaza because Hamas is so deeply embedded in and under all aspects of civilian infrastructure. To further obstruct the Israel Defense Forces’ efforts to protect civilians in Gaza, many Hamas fighters eschew uniforms to make themselves indistinguishable from civilians. The student council might condemn Hamas for hiding behind civilians, and for denying them entry to tunnels for shelter from Israeli airstrikes and artillery shells.

The student council might call for Israel to accept a ceasefire in Gaza under the following two conditions. (1) All of the hostages must be released before a ceasefire can begin. (2) The purpose of the ceasefire will be to negotiate the disarmament of Hamas, the dismantling of all of its military infrastructure including its network of tunnels, and its expulsion from Gaza. After conditions (1) and (2) have been satisfied, the ceasefire will become permanent. At that time, the US, the European Union, the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Arab League, and Israel can begin to negotiate the future governance and reconstruction of Gaza.

About the Author
Ted Sheskin is a professor emeritus of industrial engineering at Cleveland State University, and the author of a textbook, Markov Chains and Decision Processes for Engineers and Managers. He has published peer-reviewed papers on engineering systems and mathematical algorithms. His letters to editors addressing politics, economic policy, and issues facing Israel and American Jews have appeared in the NY Times, Daily News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cleveland Jewish News, Jewish Week, the Forward, and Jewish Voice.
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