Israeli-Palestinian Ceasefire Comes into Effect after 11 Days of Fighting

Israeli-Palestinian Ceasefire Comes into Effect after 11 Days of Fighting

A ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip has come into effect.

The ceasefire began early on Friday, bringing to an end 11 days of fighting in which more than 240 people were killed, most of them in Gaza.

Palestinians poured on to the streets of Gaza soon after the truce began, while a Hamas official warned that its hands were “on the trigger”.

Both Israel and Hamas have claimed victory in the conflict.

US President Joe Biden said the ceasefire brought “genuine opportunity” for progress.

Soon after it started at 02:00 on Friday (23:00 GMT on Thursday), large numbers of Palestinians took to the streets in cars and on foot to celebrate. In Gaza, drivers honked their horns, while loudspeakers from mosques pronounced “the victory of the resistance”.

Israel’s military later said it was removing nearly all emergency restrictions on movement throughout the country.

The fighting began on 10 May after weeks of rising Israeli-Palestinian tension in occupied East Jerusalem that culminated in clashes at a holy site revered by both Muslims and Jews. Hamas began firing rockets after warning Israel to withdraw from the site, triggering retaliatory air strikes.

At least 232 people, including more than 100 women and children, were killed in Gaza, according to its health ministry. Israel has said at least 150 militants were among those killed in Gaza. Hamas has not given casualty figures for fighters.

In Israel 12 people, including two children, were killed, its medical service says.

The Israeli military says more than 4,300 rockets were fired towards its territory by militants and that it struck more than 1,000 militant targets in Gaza.

Adi Vaizel, looks at the damage caused to the kitchen of his house after it was hit by a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip

The Israeli Political Security Cabinet said on Thursday night that it had “unanimously accepted the recommendation” for a ceasefire.

“The political leaders emphasised that the reality on the ground will determine the future of the campaign,” the statement said.

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said on Twitter that the Gaza offensive had yielded “unprecedented military gains”.

An Israeli official told ministers that Hamas was “deterred and suffered serious blows”, according to the Ynet news website.

A Hamas official told the Associated Press news agency that the ceasefire announced by Israel amounted to a “victory” for the Palestinian people and a defeat for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

This view was shared by people celebrating on the streets of Gaza. “This is the day of victory, the day of freedom, and it is the most beautiful day that we’ve experienced,” one said.

But Basem Naim, from the Hamas Council on International Relations, told the BBC he was sceptical about whether the truce would last.

“Without justice for Palestinians, without stopping the Israeli aggression and Israeli atrocities against our people in Jerusalem, the ceasefire will continue to be fragile,” he said.

A member of Hamas’s political bureau, Izzat al-Reshiq, issued a warning to Israel.

“It’s true that the battle ends today but Netanyahu and the whole world should know that our hands are on the trigger and we will continue to ramp up the capabilities of this resistance,” he told Reuters news agency.

Just as in the other wars since Hamas took over in Gaza in 2007, the two sides are claiming victory.

A senior Hamas leader told the BBC in Gaza that Israel had promised to “lift their hand off Sheikh Jarrah and Al-Aqsa Mosque”. He was referring to one of Islam’s holiest mosques and the Jerusalem district which became a flashpoint during an attempt to evict Palestinian families from their homes.

Israel denied there was any such understanding. Benny Gantz, the defence minister, issued a statement saying that after the past 11 days Israel can show military achievements “unprecedented in their scale and strategic significance for the struggle with terrorist organisations in Gaza”.

On both sides survivors and the bereaved from missiles and bombs are not claiming victory. By far the majority of the dead and injured are Palestinians in Gaza, which also suffered hundreds of millions of dollars of physical damage.

Both sides have also been crafting what is referred here sometimes as victory narratives.

It is the fourth big war between Israel and Hamas since the first one back in the end of 2008 and after each of those encounters, and all the smaller ones in between, similar things have been said by both sides in claiming victory and then essentially the seeds of the next conflict are sown. I can tell you one thing for certain – that if the status quo does not change favourably, there will be another round of this.

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