Was There a Ceasefire on Oct. 6th, 2023?

One of the most insidious lies repeated ad nauseam by Israel’s supporters is that “there was a ceasefire on Oct. 6th, 2023.” Let’s have a look. 

On Oct. 5, 2023, Israeli forces killed 3 Palestinians in the West Bank, including Abd al-Rahman Atta & Hudhayfah Fares. Then, Israeli forces prevented medics from reaching the victims and took their bodies hostage, a decades-old Israeli policy used to gain leverage in negotiations with Palestinians. The practice has been described as “psychological torture,” since it leaves the families of the victims with the false hope that their loved ones may still be alive.

Also on Oct. 5, 2023, Israeli settlers carried out a pogrom in Huwara, killing Labib Dhamidi, the second deadly pogrom in the town in 2023. The Israeli attackers also established a militarized outpost near the main gas station in Huwara. This will facilitate their ultimate aim, articulated by Israel’s self-declared fascist Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich: “wipe out” the town, in other words, either ethnically cleanse or murder all 7,000 Palestinians living there.

These deadly incidents were the latest in a string of Israeli military raids in the West Bank. On Sep. 22, 2023, Israeli forces killed the 18-year old Abdullah Abu Hasan, in Kafr Dan in the West Bank in a raid in the early hours of the morning. On Sep. 19, 2023, Israeli forces killed 5 Palestinians & wounded 30 in an overnight raid in Jenin’s Aqabat Jabr refugee camp. 

In Gaza, as in the West Bank, there was no ceasefire in the weeks leading up to Oct. 7th. In fact, hundreds of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip organized daily marches to the Israel-Gaza separation barrier throughout September 2023. +972 likened the scenes on the ground to the 2018-19 Great March of Return protests in which unarmed Palestinians marched weekly for months on end, only to be slaughtered by Israeli snipers for months on end. 

Most of the participants called themselves “al-Shabab al-Tha’er” (“the Revolutionary Youth”), a non-partisan group calling for an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza, an end to Israeli aggressions at the Aqsa Mosque Compound and an end to Israel’s cruel treatment of Palestinian prisoners.

By mid-Sep., the Israeli military began to use deadly force to subdue the protests. On Sep. 13, demonstrators burned tires and threw stones at the Israeli soldiers, while the Israelis shot live ammunition and teargas canisters, injuring 15 Palestinians, including six children. On September 15 and 17, as hundreds of Palestinians continued to protest, burning tires, throwing stones and explosive devices at Israeli soldiers, Israel continued its use of disproportionate force, firing live ammunition at the crowds, injuring 33 Palestinians, including six children. On Sep. 15, Israel escalated even further as Israeli warplanes fired missiles inside Gaza, injuring one Palestinian. 

Despite Israel’s resort to lethal violence, the protestors were undeterred. On Sep. 18, Israeli forces shot at and injured four journalists covering the protests, even though they were wearing press gear and standing at a distance from the protesters. Those injured included al-Manara photographer Fadi Mahmoud Ramadan Al-Danaf, French Press Agency photographer Bilal Bassam Odeh Al-Sabagh and Anadolu Agency photographer Mustafa Muhammad Al-Badri Hassouna.

The next day, on Sep. 19, Israeli forces opened fire again on protesters retreating from the separation barrier area. They murdered 25-year-old Yousef Salem Yousef Radwan with a shot in the back of his head, while another shot pierced his chest, also from the back, according to al Mezan Center for Human Rights. On the same day, Israeli soldiers shot at and injured seven more Palestinian protesters, including three children, in the Malka area, east of the al-Zeitoun neighborhood, and in the Abu Safiya area, east of Jabalia.

These were only the most grotesque acts of Israeli violence perpetrated against Palestinians in the weeks immediately prior to Oct. 7th. 

We should also mention the weekly acts of violence perpetrated against Gaza’s fisherman by the Israeli Navy (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) in the weeks prior to Oct. 7th; the multiple Palestinian patients who are killed every week by Israel waiting for their permit applications to leave Gaza to receive urgent, life-saving medical care not available in Gaza owing to Israel’s blockade; the daily home demolitions carried out against Palestinians in the weeks leading up to Oct. 7th for having committed the crime of building a home while being Palestinian; the weekly expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank in the weeks leading up to Oct. 7th (1, 2); the acts of ethnic cleansing in the West Bank perpetrated by Israelis against Palestinians in the weeks leading up to Oct. 7th (1, 2).

And we haven’t even mentioned the banal violence that is so regular it’s rarely newsworthy. In the weeks leading up to Oct. 7th, Israeli settlers, soldiers and military police officers were committing daily acts of vandalism, harassment, intimidation and violence against Palestinians (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27). 

We should also mention that only a fraction of Israeli violence is documented. How many untold acts of violence do we not even know about because of lack of documentation or distribution in the weeks prior to Oct. 7th?

Zooming out a bit further, on the eve of Hamas’s attack, Israel had killed more than 256 Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since the start of 2023, which was on pace to be the deadliest year in nearly 20 years. It was on pace to supersede 2022, which was itself the deadliest year since 2004.

And so while Israelis may have felt that they were living in a blissful state of calm and tranquility before Oct. 7th, no such “ceasefire” existed for Palestinians, who were living in a violent state of siege, occupation and apartheid.