Elliott Abrams

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Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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The Cease Fire That Broke Itself, Part II

by Elliott Abrams
August 20, 2014


In a recent post, found here, I noted the widespread failure of news media sites to say straightforwardly that Hamas has broken several cease fires. This just happened again, so herewith a couple of the most remarkable examples.

Foreign Policy wrote this:

Efforts to end six weeks of fighting in Gaza collapsed as rocket fire from the strip broke a cease-fire and Israel carried out renewed strikes in the area.

Interesting formulation: Israel carried out strikes, but on the other side was “rocket fire.” It would seem that in Gaza rocket fire makes its own decisions about shooting: no terrorists, no Hamas, no Islamic Jihad.

Then there is this rather fantastic example from the Daily Telegraph in London:

Israel has confirmed that it tried to assassinate the most senior Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip. Mohammad Deif, head of Hamas’s military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, was targeted in a strike on a house which killed his wife and seven-month-old son in the early hours of Wednesday morning. A third dead body was identified, but it is not clear whether it was Mr Deif. The strike followed the resumption of violence between Israel and Gaza since rocket fire from the Strip on Tuesday afternoon violated the six-day ceasefire between the two parties. Subsequently Israel launched air strikes at Gaza and abandoned the ceasefire negotiations in Cairo, mediated by the Egyptians.

Now, it’s an obvious fact that Hamas broke the cease fire, and Israel then responded with air strikes–including the one aimed at Deif. But in the Telegraph, there was a “resumption of violence.” Like cease fires that break themselves, violence “resumes:” no human agency. But Israel is responsible because it launched air strikes and then abandoned negotiations in Egypt. That the Israeli negotiators withdrew after Hamas broke the cease fire is not mentioned, of course, because the predicate is never mentioned: that Hamas broke the cease fire.

Sadly, each day provides more and more examples of this unwillingness to state clearly that Hamas breaks cease fires. I will not offer a theory as to why, but it is certainly bad journalism.


Post a Comment 5 Comments

  • Posted by joseph berk md

    I have a theory; well it’s not actually a theory, it’s the truth:
    The world has hated the Jew for more than two thousand years, and its only a matter of time before the rockets (not the people) destroy them.

  • Posted by Jeryl Bier

    Comes as no surprise, but UN Sec. Gen.’s statement on the “return to hostilities” was silent on the cause:

    The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the breach of the Egyptian-brokered humanitarian ceasefire, which was to expire at midnight local time. He is gravely disappointed by the return to hostilities.

    The Secretary-General reminds both sides of their responsibility not to let the situation escalate. The hopes of the people in Gaza for a better future and the hopes of the people in Israel for sustainable security rest on the talks in Cairo. The Secretary-General calls on the delegations to live up to this expectation and urges the parties to reach an immediate understanding on a durable ceasefire, which also addresses the underlying issues afflicting Gaza.


  • Posted by Stanley Tee

    The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) on Tuesday reported that fighting had resumed between Gaza and Israel, with no mention of who started it. They then showed explosions on Gaza and said that “reports state Israel has hit targets in Gaza in response to rockets.”
    It all started when Israel fired back.

  • Posted by Rosie Elsass

    Type your comment in here…
    This is precisely how the majority, if not all, news items begin their coverage in Melbourne, Australia. ‘Israel has resumed bombing ..’ And in particular one might have expected better from the ABC. No balance. And no desire to fact check. Therefore no legitimacy. And to detour a bit, it seems the war in Syria is over: never a mention despite horrific numbers of deaths including thousands of children alone.

  • Posted by Jon Steelman

    Dr. Abrams! This article along with Part I comprise a crash course vis-a-vis George Orwell. notwithstanding the human and political tragedy ongoing, this is somehow comforting to this old poli sci major from the late sixties. the (plural) media seems to have evolved unwittingly per Oceania’s Ministry of Truth. in the context of the middle east generally and the travails of Israel specifically, the media records the current dystopia vaguely, as an escape hatch to reality.

    otherwise, we still don’t have a clear “run to daylight” approach in the Gaza conflict except for IDF to keep on hammering the perpetrates. as I am somewhat sure that you disagree, the so called innocents in the Gaza are not so innocent. they provide the politcal legtimacy to Hamas by NOT throwing them out of seeking asylum otherwise through the West of the UN.

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