Thousands of people in the Gaza Strip and throughout the occupied Palestinian territory took to the streets to celebrate the ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian armed groups.
The ceasefire, that was welcome internationally, it was brokered by Egypt in the early hours of Friday after eleven days of relentless bombing of the besieged enclave and thousands of rockets launched into Israel by Hamas, the group that ruled the Strip.
A statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Thursday afternoon the security cabinet had “unanimously accepted recommendations to accept an Egyptian initiative for an … unconditional ceasefire.”
Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad confirmed the ceasefire in a statement, saying it would take effect at 2am on Friday (Thursday at 23:00 GMT).
The Israeli bombing of Gaza killed 232 Palestinians, including 65 children, and caused widespread devastation in the already impoverished territory. On the Israeli side, 12 people died, including two children.
Here are the latest updates:
Ceasefire begins as “first day of Eid”
Youmna al-Sayed, of Al Jazeera, an informant from Gaza City, said Palestinians began celebrating it as soon as the ceasefire began.
“They started cheering and cheering God is great,” he said. “And for them today, it is actually considered the first day of the religious holiday of Eid al-Fitr since the aggression began before the last day of Ramadan and they did not come to celebrate Eid.” .
Al-Sayed, located in the middle of the ruins of a bombed-out house, said displaced families had already returned from UN-run schools that had taken refuge “due to the very poor humanitarian conditions” they were there.
“There was no water, no electricity and they went there carrying nothing,” he said. “But to these people now, in these circumstances, is added the crisis of the very high rates of poverty and unemployment in the Gaza Strip, as well as the restrictions on the reconstruction materials that can enter the Gaza Strip. They have no other alternative than waiting for the financing of the construction of their houses again ”.
Israel and Hamas must be based on the ceasefire agreement: EU commission
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, welcomed the ceasefire agreement and urged both parties to build on it.
“I urge both parties to consolidate it and stabilize the situation in the long run. Only a political solution will bring lasting peace and security to everyone, “tweeted Von der Leyen.
It welcomes the ceasefire that came into force today at two in the morning between Israel and Hamas.
I urge both parties to consolidate it and stabilize the situation in the long run.
Only a political solution will bring lasting peace and security to all.
– Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) May 21, 2021
China will provide humanitarian aid to help the recovery of Gaza
China will send assistance to help treat the injured and find new accommodation for the homeless as a result of the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, state media reported, citing Tian Lin, a spokesman for the Agency. International Development Cooperation of China (CIDCA).
Skepticism in Israel over government claims attacking Hamas has backfired
There is skepticism in Israel about the bombing of Gaza and the ceasefire despite claims by the country’s defense minister that the attacks had left Hamas behind, according to Harry Fawcett of Al Jazeera, which is in West Jerusalem.
“There’s a lot of concern and question about where this has someone, apart from more destruction and more death,” Fawcett said, noting, “There’s a feeling that all of this has been said before.”
Hamas holds the “cat in its hands” after the ceasefire: official
A Hamas official has told Reuters news agency that Israel must end its violations in the occupied East Jerusalem area and address the damage caused by the bombing of Gaza after the ceasefire, and warned that the group still has their “hands on the trigger.”
“It is true that the battle ends today, but Netanyahu and the whole world should know that our hands are activated and we will continue to increase the capabilities of this resistance,” said Ezzat El-Reshiq, a member of Hamas’ political cabinet.
El-Reshiq said the movement’s demands also include protecting the grounds of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and ending the eviction of several Palestinians from his home in East Jerusalem, which he described as “a red line.”
“What comes after the battle of the ‘Jerusalem Sword’ is not like what happened before, because the Palestinian people supported the resistance and know that the resistance will liberate their land and protect their holy places.” said El-Reshiq.
Rebuilding a “daunting challenge” for Gaza after the ceasefire
Some people in Gaza who had taken refuge in school buildings after their homes were damaged in Israeli raids began to return as soon as the ceasefire began, according to Youmna Al Sayed, of Al Jazeera, which reports of Gaza.
But he said many residents had had their homes completely destroyed and that the task of rebuilding the city would be a “daunting challenge” thanks to the closure of the border crossings that Gaza has passed on building materials, fuel and other crucial needs.
“We are talking about rebuilding a territory that was already suffering from a dire economic situation, a high level of unemployment and a coronavirus outbreak,” he said.
Celebration of the ceasefire in Gaza after 11 days of bombing
More images of Palestinians celebrating Friday’s ceasefire arrive.
For all the news on May 20, go here.