On the national march for Palestine in London (Picture: Steve Eason on Flickr )

The prisoner-swap deal and a possible pause in the murder of Palestinians must not mean an end to mobilisations against Israeli crimes. There has to be a massive turnout for this Saturday’s marches in London, Glasgow, and Cardiff.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) was right to go ahead with a sit-in at the House of Commons on Wednesday. It said, “While a temporary truce is welcome it is not a solution. We won’t stray from our demands. We demand a permanent ceasefire and an end to the siege of Gaza and to Israeli apartheid.”

On Tuesday, the Israeli war cabinet accepted an agreement with Hamas for a four-day pause in fighting. Israel has agreed to release 150 Palestinian women and children from its prisons. 

The mainstream media passes over that Israel imprisons children. In fact, Israel is the only country that systematically prosecutes under-18s in military courts. An estimated 500-700 children are tried each year with the most common charge being stone-throwing, which carries a 20-year prison sentence.

In exchange, Hamas has agreed to release 50 detainees captured on 7 October. During the four-day pause Israel and Egypt—an ally of US imperialism—will allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza. 

But the Israeli assault had not stopped by Wednesday afternoon. Israeli Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht told a press briefing, “We still have probably, maybe a day-plus before this thing matures, and things can happen in that day. And I assume today is going to be a day of fighting in Gaza.” 

Israel killed at least 100 Palestinians in attacks on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning around hospitals and refugee camps in Gaza—after it agreed to the deal. And the Israeli army ramped up attacks in the occupied West Bank, killing six Palestinians.

Hamas official Abu Marzouk told Al Jazeera news the truce is expected to start at 8am British time on Thursday.  He added, “We seek a permanent ceasefire and are ready for a comprehensive prisoner swap. The whole world is seeking a ceasefire except the US.

“But there are no guarantees that Israel will not target the Palestinians who will be released from the prisons.”

Israel would not have agreed to the prisoner-swap without the defiant resistance of people fighting back in Gaza. It matters that millions of people around the world took to the streets against Israel and its imperialist backers. 

This has put pressure on Israel’s allies to make at least a show of curbing its terror. It hammers home the need to stay on the streets. 

Three separate diplomatic sources from other countries close to the talks spoke to the BBC. They said that a deal very similar to the one done now was all but agreed before Israel sent troops and tanks into Gaza late last month.

But Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu wanted dead Palestinians to try to shore up his position. His decision to go for the deal now split the war cabinet. Israel’s national security minister—the far right Itamar Ben-Gvir—denounced the truce as a “disaster” and the decision of the Israeli cabinet to approve it as “idiocy.”

Hamas’ resistance means that, in just six weeks since 7 October, its status changed. It went from “terrorists with whom any negotiations are unacceptable” to “an organisation that has control on the ground” that Israel had to deal with.

But, despite talk of further ceasefires and prisoner swaps, Netanyahu said, “We are at war. We will continue the war until we achieve all our goals—to destroy Hamas.” He is ready at any moment to restart the torture and killing of the shattered and grieving people of Gaza. 

The horror of the Israeli attack is far from over. Much of the north of Gaza has been made uninhabitable by the Israeli bombardment, and 1.7 million people have been driven from their homes. 

All those people are now crammed into the south, many malnourished or on the edge of starvation. Disease is rampant. They have had no proper fuel, clean water, shelter and much else for almost seven weeks after Israel cut off supplies.

All the killing in Palestine and Israel flows from the oppression of Palestinians that began even before the Nakba of 1948. It can’t be understood just through 7 October and after. The battle has to go on for an end to Zionism and Palestinian freedom—from the river to the sea.

Join the demonstration, this Saturday, 25 November, 12 noon, Park Lane, London

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