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Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) welcomes the announcement of a 4-day cessation of Israel’s onslaught against the Gaza Strip and the release of Palestinian and Israeli women and children.

Welcome as it is, a 4-day respite will not end the killing of civilians, nor will it be long enough to address the humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip caused by 46 days of relentless bombing and ground attacks, which have killed over 14,000 Palestinians, over 40% of whom were children. Without a permanent ceasefire, the cessation of hostilities announced today could prove to be little more than a stay of execution for thousands of Palestinian men, women, and children.

Now more than ever we must raise our voices to demand that this truce is made permanent, that the cruel siege on the Gaza Strip is completely lifted, and the root causes of the crisis in Palestine are addressed.

Under the terms of the negotiated agreement, 50 Israeli women and children held in the Gaza Strip and 150 Palestinian women and children held prisoner by Israel are to be released. Hopefully, these numbers may rise.

Currently, more than 8,000 Palestinian political prisoners are held by Israel, more than 2000 of them held indefinitely under ‘administrative detention’ without charge or trial. This use of administrative detention in a widespread and systemic manner is prohibited under international law and has been identified by the British government as a violation of the Geneva Conventions, though without having taken any action to intervene. More than 200 Palestinian political prisoners are children, most commonly for throwing stones, a crime that is punishable under military law by up to 20 years in prison. Israel is the only country in the world that automatically and systematically prosecutes children in military courts that lack fundamental fair trial rights and protections.

This 4-day truce will allow some desperately needed aid to enter the Gaza Strip. This, however, will not be sufficient to even address the most urgent need. The illegal siege on Gaza must be completely lifted to allow unfettered access for food, water, fuel, and medical supplies.

Today’s announcement shows that a permanent ceasefire is possible. It must be the starting point to address the underlying causes of the situation including decades of military occupation and a system of oppression against the Palestinian people that is considered internationally to meet the legal definition of apartheid. The British government must end its complicity in Israel’s crimes, starting by joining the call for the killing of civilians to stop completely.

In the coming days, we will redouble our efforts to ensure that there is no return to violence. We will continue to march, demonstrate, and organise to demand an immediate and permanent ceasefire and justice for the Palestinian people.