On Friday, Palestinians rallied by the thousands after a cease-fire came into effect in the latest Gaza conflict, with many looking at it as a costly but clear success for the Islamic militant group Hamas. The state of Israel vowed to come back with a ‘new level of force’ to further hostilities.
The Eleven-day war left over 250 dead, including more than seventy children, the vast majority of Palestinians, and brought extensive damage to the already impoverished Hamas-ruled Gaza.
Photostory: Celebration In Gaza As Israel, Hamas Agree To Ceasefire After 11-Day War pic.twitter.com/aPjJFU13jE
— Punch Newspapers (@MobilePunch) May 21, 2021
But the rocket firing that brought life to a standstill in much of the Israeli state were seen by numerous Palestinians as a bold acknowledgment to perceived Israeli abuses in the emotional heart of the conflict, Jerusalem. The latest fighting round ended inconclusively like the three previous wars.
Israeli state claimed it inflicted heavy damage on Hamas but once again was unable to stop the rockets. Even as it claims success, Hamas faces the intimidating challenge of rebuilding in a territory already suffering from high joblessness and a COVID-19 outbreak and from years of blockade by Israel and Egypt.
The fight brought to the surface profound frustration among Palestinians, whether in Gaza, the occupied West Bank, or within Israel, over the status quo, with the Palestinian- Israeli peace process all but abandoned for several years.
The sustained instability was on display when conflicts broke out between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli security forces following Friday prayers at the Al-AQSA Mosque compound. Earlier in May, clashes there were one of the key triggers for the war.
— Quds News Network (@QudsNen) May 21, 2021
Israeli Attacks Hit More Than Sixty miles
Benjamin Netanyahu, PM of Israeli, fended off criticism from his hawkish base, who said he ended the offensive prematurely without a more conclusive blow to Hamas. He said that Israel had done daring new things, and this without being dragged into unnecessary adventures, adding its forces caused maximum harm to Hamas with a minimum of casualties in the Israeli state.
Netanyahu cautioned against further attacks, saying, if Hamas thinks they would tolerate a drizzle of rockets, it is wrong. Moreover, he vowed to respond with ‘a new level of force’ against aggression anywhere in the state of Israel.
He stated Israeli attacks killed over 200 militants, including twenty-five senior commanders, and hit more than sixty miles (100 kilometers) of militant tunnels. The Islamic Jihad and Hamas militant group have only acknowledged twenty fighters killed.
Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas leader, said in a televised talk from Doha, the Qatari capital, that the conflict opened the door to new phases that would witness many victories. He called it a quantum leap that would build support among Palestinians for resistance rather than failed discussions.
The Gaza Ministry of Health says at least 243 Palestinians were killed, including sixty-six children, with 1910 people injured. It doesn’t differentiate between civilians and fighters. Twelve people were killed in the Israeli state, all but one of them civilians, including a five-year-old boy and a sixteen-year-old girl.
In Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the occupied West Bank, celebrations erupted at 2 AM when the cease-fire took hold. Many people took to the streets, and young men waved Hamas and Palestinian flags, passed out sweets, beeped horns, and set off fireworks in Gaza City.
WATCH: Celebrations were heard on Gaza streets in the minutes after the truce began as cars honked their horns and Mosque loud-speakers feted “the victory of the resistance achieved over the Occupation (Israel)”, echoing the jubilant scenes in the entire city. #etribune pic.twitter.com/P8QFSzIH0G
— The Express Tribune (@etribune) May 21, 2021
Buyers stocked up on fresh vegetables and fruits
Hundreds more held similar celebrations, waving flags and praising Hamas at noon prayers at Al-AQSA Mosque. It was uncertain what sparked the ensuing violence, in which the police force fired stun grenades and lachrymator, and Palestinians threw rocks. Israeli law enforcement said they arrested sixteen people. Similar conflicts broke out in parts of the West Bank.
Buyers stocked up on fresh vegetables and fruits at a Gaza City open-air market that re-opened after being closed during the fight.
Shop owner Ashraf Abu Mohammad said life would return because this isn’t the first war, and it won’t be the last war. He said the heart is in pain; there have been catastrophes, families wiped from the civil registry, which saddens them. But this is their fate in this land, to remain patient.
Azhar Nsair said they see such massive devastation there; it is the first time in history they’ve seen that. Moreover, the cease-fire is for people who did not suffer, who did not lose their loved ones, whose homes weren’t bombed.
Stephane Dujarric, the U.N. spokesman, said that thousands returned home after sheltering in United Nations’ schools. At the peak, 66000 people were crammed inside, but on May 21, the number fell under a thousand.
The U.N. sent thirteen trucks with food, coronavirus vaccines, and medicines into Gaza City after the cease-fire. The world body also allocated $18.6M in emergency humanitarian assistance.
The barrage struck a blow to the already weak infrastructure in the small coastal territory, home to over 2M Palestinians. It flattened high-rises and houses, wrecked water systems, and tore up roads. At least thirty health facilities were damaged, forcing a stop to COVID-19 testing in the territory.