Escalation of violence has sadly become a familiar cycle in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The Israel army provokes, Gaza responds with a few rockets, and Israel responds with fire. It is a tragic sequence of events which results in destruction and death for both sides- but disproportionately more for Palestine.

The last two days have seen the worst escalation of violence in Gaza since the 2014 war. The trouble started on Sunday when the Israeli army launched a secret operation in the coastal enclave that killed seven Palestinians. The next day, Palestine responded to the Israeli attack by firing hundreds of missiles into southern Israel, resulting in two Israelis being critically wounded, and causing Israeli security forces to force evacuation of people into bomb shelters. The Israeli military met the retaliatory rocket-and-mortar fire with disproportionate force- conducting dozens of air raids across the blockaded territory and setting fire to the offices of Al-Aqsa television. This instance violence has resulted in the deaths of at least seven Palestinians, and the destruction of a number of buildings.

The tragic violence is a revelation of just how unpredictable and volatile the Israel-Palestine conflict it- the Israeli raid occurred at a time when talks of a long-term truce taking hold between Israel and Gaza was taking place. It is surprising why Israel would respond with such aggression when peace negotiations were at such an advances stage amid mediation efforts by Egypt, the United Nations and Qatar.

The unprovoked and disproportionate act of aggression by Israel must be condemned, as well as its stance in the United Nations immediately afterwards, where Israel’s envoy to the UN said ahead of the UNSC meeting that Israel “will not accept a call for ‘both sides to act with restraint.’

However, the Palestinian hopes of a cease-fire may not be fruitless, even after this exchange of violence. Diplomatic sources report that Israel and the Palestinian factions have agreed to a cease-fire that would follow the agreement the two sides reached in 2014. A cease-fire is the only solution to hoping for a lasting peace between the two factions, which have been at war for the past sixty years.

Unfortunately, the cease-fire must be viewed realistically- the situation is still extremely precarious and can escalate again. Protests by Israeli citizens over halting of Israeli attacks do not paint a rosy picture of what is to come. It is hoped that both sides will keep to the cease-fire.