Palestinians see Gaza truce as victory as Israel warns Hamas – fr

Palestinians see Gaza truce as victory as Israel warns Hamas – fr

GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP – Palestinians flocked by the thousands early Friday after a ceasefire came into effect in Gaza’s latest war, with many seeing it as a costly but clear victory for the Islamic militant group Hamas. Israel has pledged to respond with a “new level of force” to any new hostility.

The 11-day war claimed more than 200 lives – the vast majority of Palestinians – and caused widespread devastation in the already impoverished Gaza Strip ruled by Hamas. But the rocket barrages that crippled life in much of Israel were seen by many Palestinians as a bold response to perceived Israeli abuses in Jerusalem, the emotional heart of the conflict.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday warned against any further attack, saying that “if Hamas thinks that we will tolerate a drizzle of rockets, it is not.” He vowed to respond with “a new level of force” against any aggression anywhere in Israel.

The Israeli leader, who has been criticized by his hawkish base for ending the offensive prematurely, said Israel had done “bold and new things without being drawn into unnecessary adventures.” He added that Israeli forces had caused “maximum damage to Hamas with minimum loss to Israel.”

The Israeli strikes killed more than 200 militants, including 25 senior commanders, and struck more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) of militant tunnels, Netanyahu said.

The truce faced an early test when clashes erupted between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police following Friday prayers in the grounds of Al-Aqsa Mosque, a holy place in Jerusalem which is sacred to Jews and Muslims. We didn’t know what triggered the violence.

Police fired stun grenades and tear gas, and Palestinians threw stones after hundreds took part in a celebratory protest in which they waved Palestinian and Hamas flags and cheered the group on. activist. One of the main triggers for the war was clashes between protesters and police at the site earlier this month.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Gaza as the ceasefire took effect at 2 a.m. Young men waved Palestinian and Hamas flags, handed out candy, honked their horns and set off fireworks. Spontaneous celebrations also erupted in East Jerusalem and throughout the occupied West Bank.

An open-air market in Gaza City that was closed throughout the war reopened and shoppers could be seen stocking up on fresh tomatoes, cabbage and watermelon. Workers in orange vests swept the rubble from the surrounding roads.

“Life will come again, because this is not the first war and it will not be the last,” said store owner Ashraf Abu Mohammad. “The heart is aching, there have been disasters, families wiped out, and that saddens us. But it is our destiny in this country to remain patient. “

There was not much to celebrate in the hard-hit town of Beit Hanoun in the north of the country, where residents, many of whom had lost loved ones, inspected the rubble of their homes.

“We are seeing such enormous destruction here, this is the first time in history that we are seeing this,” said Azhar Nsair. “The ceasefire is for people who have not suffered, who have not lost their loved ones, whose homes have not been bombed. “

Like the three previous wars between bitter enemies, the last round of fighting ended inconclusive. Israel claimed to have inflicted heavy damage on Hamas with hundreds of deadly airstrikes, but once again was unable to stop the rockets.

Hamas also claimed victory, despite the horrific toll the war has taken on countless Palestinian families who have lost loved ones, homes and businesses. He now faces the daunting challenge of rebuilding in a territory already suffering from high unemployment and a coronavirus outbreak.

At least 243 Palestinians were killed, including 66 children and 39 women, and 1,910 people were injured, according to Gaza’s health ministry, which does not divide the figures between combatants and civilians. Twelve people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl, were killed.

In Gaza, rescuers were still collecting bodies in areas too dangerous to enter. The Red Crescent emergency service said it recovered five bodies in the southern town of Khan Younis on Friday, including the body of a three-year-old child.

The fighting began on May 10, when Hamas militants in Gaza fired long-range rockets at Jerusalem. The roadblock came after days of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police in Al-Aqsa. Harsh police tactics in the compound and the threat of eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers have inflamed tensions.

Competing claims to Jerusalem are at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and have repeatedly triggered episodes of violence in the past.

The ceasefire was negotiated by neighboring Egypt after the United States urged Israel to end the offensive. Netanyahu announced that Israel accepted the proposal Thursday evening, while stressing that “the reality on the ground will determine the future of the campaign”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to visit the region in the coming days “to discuss recovery efforts and work together to build a better future for Israelis and Palestinians.” said the State Department.

Hamas and other militant groups fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israel throughout the fighting, launching projectiles from civilian areas into Israeli towns. Dozens of projectiles flew as far north as Tel Aviv, the country’s bustling commercial capital.

Israel, meanwhile, carried out hundreds of airstrikes targeting what it called Hamas’s military infrastructure, including a vast network of tunnels.

The United States, Israel’s closest and most important ally, initially supported what it said was Israel’s right to self-defense against indiscriminate rocket fire. But as the fighting dragged on and the death toll rose, Americans increasingly pressured Israel to stop the offensive.

Biden hailed the ceasefire. He said the United States was determined to help Israel replenish its supply of interception missiles and to work with the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority – not Hamas – to provide humanitarian assistance to Gaza.

Netanyahu has faced stiff criticism from members of his hawkish nationalist base. Gideon Saar, a former ally who now heads a small party opposed to the prime minister, called the ceasefire “embarrassing.” Itamar Ben Gvir, leader of the far-right Jewish Power party, tweeted that the ceasefire was “a serious surrender to terrorism and the dictates of Hamas”.

In a potentially damaging development for the Israeli leader, Palestinian activists claimed that Netanyahu had agreed to end further Israeli actions at the Al Aqsa Mosque and to reverse planned evictions of Palestinians in the nearby Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

An Egyptian official only said that the tensions in Jerusalem “will be addressed”. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing the negotiations behind the scenes and did not provide any details.

Some 58,000 Palestinians have sought refuge in crowded United Nations schools during a coronavirus outbreak. Thousands of people returned home when the truce took hold.

Since the fighting began, Gaza’s infrastructure, already weakened by a 14-year blockade, has deteriorated rapidly and airstrikes have damaged schools and health centers.

Medical supplies, water and fuel for electricity are running out in the territory, on which Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade after Hamas seized power from the Palestinian Authority in 2007. Since then , Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ruled the autonomous areas of the Israeli occupation. West Bank and has limited influence in Gaza.


Krauss brought back from Jerusalem. Associated Press editor Isabel DeBre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed


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