Home Global News Cease-Fire Between Israel and Hamas Holds on Day One ~ PressTv

Cease-Fire Between Israel and Hamas Holds on Day One ~ PressTv


The sirens across southern Israel were silent early Friday morning, and the thunder of bombs bursting in Gaza City was replaced by sounds of celebratory gunfire as a fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas went into force, bringing an end to more than 10 days of fighting that claimed more than 200 lives.

The truce, mediated by Egypt, began at 2 a.m. in Israel as people on either side of the divide watched nervously to see whether it would hold.

As morning dawned with no reported violations of the truce, both sides were beginning to take stock of the deadliest Israeli-Palestinian fighting in seven years.

A small skirmish was reported outside the Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on Friday afternoon between Palestinians and the Israeli police, but they appeared limited in scope.

However, tensions remained high, and past cease-fires between Israel and Hamas have proved fragile, so both sides were watching developments nervously.

The Israeli aerial and artillery campaign killed more than 230 people in Gaza, many of them civilians, according to the Gaza health ministry, and badly damaged the impoverished territory’s infrastructure, including the fresh water and sewer systems, the electrical grid, hospitals, schools and roads. The primary target was Hamas’s extensive network of tunnels for moving fighters and munitions, and Israel also sought to kill Hamas leaders and fighters.

More than 4,000 rockets had been fired at Israel from Gaza since May 10, killing 12 people, mostly civilians.

Hamas and Israel have been engaged in some form of conflict since the Palestinian group was founded in the 1980s. This particular round of military action began as Hamas fired a barrage of rockets at Jerusalem in response to several police raids on the Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam, and the planned evictions of several Palestinian families from their homes in the city.

Even with the pause in fighting, the underlying causes of the conflict remain: the dispute over land rights in Jerusalem and the West Bank, religious tensions in the Old City of Jerusalem and the absence of a peace process to resolve the conflict. Gaza remains under a punishing blockade by Israel and Egypt.

But the immediate concern for world leaders was the rapidly escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the growing death toll — which included dozens of Palestinian children.

President Biden spoke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel six times in recent days — turning increasingly blunt as the crisis stretched on. He warned the Israeli leader that he could not withstand mounting international criticism of the Gaza strikes for long.

The president’s advisers said he believed he could quietly push Mr. Netanyahu, whom he has known for 40 years, to bring an end to the violence. And in the hours before the cease-fire announcement, Mr. Biden also held a call with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt to discuss the possibility of brokering a deal.

After the agreement was announced, Mr. Biden offered praised what he described as a “mutual, unconditional” cease-fire.

“I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely,” Mr. Biden said in brief remarks delivered at the White House, “and to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy.”

Diplomats from Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations worked intensively to broker the deal between Hamas and Israel, which do not talk to each other directly.

The final details were hammered out late Thursday, and Mr. Netanyahu’s office security cabinet voted unanimously to accept the Egyptian proposal. Around the same time, Hamas officials confirmed that they, too, had accepted.

Each side cautioned that its compliance could depend on the other’s actions.

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