Many marchers in London last Saturday called for a ceasefire in Palestine (Picture: Guy Smallman)

The demand for a ceasefire in Israel’s war on the Palestinians continues to grow. Not only does it resonate with the hundreds of thousands protesting on Britain’s streets—it finds an echo with the wider public too.

A YouGov poll last week shows that 76 percent of adults here think there should be an “immediate ceasefire in Israel and Palestine”. That’s a challenge to the warmongering politicians who give Israel their unconditional backing. 

They have, so far, rejected all such calls and instead talked of Israel “having a duty” to bomb and blockade Gaza. At the United Nations Security Council last week, the US used its veto against a motion calling for a “pause” in the fighting, while Britain abstained.

The message is clear—the West wants the Palestinian people to pay for their resistance in blood.  Talk of an immediate ceasefire is currently an obstacle to their plans.

It’s unsurprising, therefore, that the demand for a halt to the fighting is coming primarily from those who cannot bear anymore to see the consequences of this terrible retribution. 

But Palestine campaigners should be alert to implicit dangers in the ceasefire demand. It can also be used to silence the guns of the resistance and weaken campaigning.

The Israeli military has long been reluctant to mount a full-scale land invasion of Gaza because its generals know that it would likely come with heavy casualties. Armed Palestinians will fight street by street on their own land.

Despite the huge disparity of weaponry, guerilla warfare has in the past laid waste to many an occupying army—just ask Americans who were in Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan.

Israel’s land war on Gaza carries a similar risk of getting bogged down, incurring intolerable losses for the government, and becoming ever less popular at home and internationally.

If that were to happen, the demand for a ceasefire could have a meaning opposite to the one in the minds of today’s Palestine protesters.

It can be a demand that the resistance lays down its arms and instead embraces some form of negotiations. That can be fatal for those fighting an irregular war.

Not only does it allow the enemy a chance to replenish its stocks of tanks, shells and other ammunition, but it also seeks to trap Palestinians diplomatically.

Offers of “international talks” are designed to try and split the Palestinian resistance between those who want to fight against ethnic cleansing and the new Nakba to the last from those who might compromise with yet another poor deal.

A peace deal signed while Israeli troops are in Gaza will be strictly on imperialism’s terms—and that would mean continuing the murderous occupation.

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