Gaza ceasefire enters into force after five days of deadly struggle

Smoke rises above buildings in Gaza City after Israeli airstrikes on May 13

In the Gaza Strip, a ceasefire went into effect on Sunday, with people returning to the streets after at least 34 Palestinians and an Israeli died in five days of cross-border exchanges.

The ceasefire got off to a rocky start when the salvo occurred with half an hour left before the scheduled 10:00 pm Saturday deadline.

An AFP correspondent in the Gaza Strip said dozens of rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel, triggering new airstrikes.

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Most of the rockets were intercepted by Israeli air defenses.

A few more rockets were fired after 1900 GMT, followed by renewed attacks by Israel until the situation appeared to have calmed down.

According to the Israeli military, two rockets were fired from Gaza shortly after 11:00 p.m. (2000 Japan time), resulting in no casualties.

Egypt said it brokered the ceasefire and secured an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad.

A statement from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said, “Israel’s National Security Advisor Tzahi Hanegbi … expressed his gratitude to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and expressed his support for Egypt’s vigorous efforts to achieve a ceasefire. He expressed the gratitude of the State of Israel for their efforts.”

Israel’s response to the Egyptian initiative means “silence will be answered with silence, and if Israel is attacked or threatened, it will continue to do whatever it takes to defend itself,” he said. Stated.

Palestinian sources have confirmed the Islamic Jihad agreement.

“I want to thank Egypt for their efforts,” Mohammad Al-Hindi, an official with the Islamic Jihad Political Bureau, told AFP. He has been in Cairo since fighting broke out on Tuesday.

– “What did we do?” –

For days, life in the Gaza Strip and Israeli communities near the border has been subject to sirens warning of airstrikes and rocket launches.

As the fighting raged, residents of the crowded Gaza Strip were huddled indoors, the streets empty and few shops and pharmacies open.

“The whole Palestinian people are suffering,” Muhammad Muhanna, 58, told AFP from the ruins of his home. “What have we done?”

In Deri al-Bala, in central Gaza, a donkey’s carcass lies among the ruins of a building destroyed by an Israeli attack.

“No one is safe at home,” said Imad Layan, 64.

A Gaza interior ministry spokesman said Israeli forces were focused on “targeting civilians, homes and civilian buildings” on the final day of the operation.

There were growing calls for a ceasefire agreement, including from Israel’s closest ally, the United States.

The White House welcomed the agreement and commended Egypt and Qatar’s role in de-escalating hostilities.

“U.S. officials are working closely with regional partners to prevent further loss of life and restore peace to both Israelis and Palestinians,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement on Saturday. We have achieved a resolution of this hostilities.”

Despite repeated setbacks, Egypt has continued its mediation efforts.

A man was killed and another injured when fragments of a rocket fired from Gaza hit a construction site in Sudot Negev across the border with Israel on Saturday. Both were day laborers from Gaza.

Islamic Jihad said its fighters were pursuing “missile attacks on Israeli cities” in retaliation for Israel’s “assassination” of its commanders and attacks on populated areas.

The shootout came after the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that two men, aged 19 and 32, were killed in an Israeli army raid on a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus.

The Fatah Movement, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said the two men killed in the attack were members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.

– Worst fighting since August –

The current violence erupted on Tuesday after Israel’s attack on Gaza killed three leading members of the Islamic Jihad. Three other Palestinian militant leaders were also killed in the ensuing attack.

They are among at least 34 lives lost in fighting inside Gaza, according to the Gaza Strip Health Ministry.

Two people died in Israel, one of whom was a Gaza day laborer.

Another was an Israeli man who was killed in a rocket attack in the capital city of Rehovot on Thursday.

The military announced that about 1,100 rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel during the current fighting, of which 300 were intercepted by air defenses.

The coastal enclave of Gaza, home to 2.3 million Palestinians, has been plagued with poverty and unemployment since Israel’s blockade in 2007 when the Islamist movement Hamas took control.

The region has witnessed numerous wars between militants and Israel since its occupation by Hamas.

This week’s fighting was the worst in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since an August flare-up that killed nearly 50 Palestinians.

The conflict has escalated since veteran Israeli politician Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power late last year with a coalition of far-right and ultra-orthodox parties.


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