Thousands of Palestinians displaced in the besieged Gaza Strip have begun returning to their homes to check for damage, while Israelis were returning to normal life as a ceasefire was imposed between Israel and Hamas after ’11 days of deadly fighting.
On Friday, Palestinian officials put reconstruction costs in the tens of millions of dollars. Five more bodies were removed from the ruins of Gaza, killing 248, including 66 children, with more than 1,900 injured.
The Israeli army said one Israeli soldier and 12 civilians, including two children, had been killed. Hundreds were treated for injuries after rocket rescuers caused panic and sent people as far away as Tel Aviv running to the shelters.
World Health Organization spokeswoman Margaret Harris said Gaza’s health facilities were in danger of being overwhelmed by the thousands injured.
He called for immediate access to the Gaza Strip to obtain supplies and medical personnel.
“The real challenges are closures,” he told a virtual UN briefing.
Gaza has been subjected for years to an Israeli blockade that restricts the passage of people and goods, as well as restrictions by Egypt.
Fabrizio Carboni, regional director of the International Committee of the Red Cross, echoed the WHO’s request for urgent medical supplies and added: “It will take years to rebuild and even more to rebuild fractured lives.”
Hundreds of houses destroyed
Harry Fawcett, of Al Jazeera, reported from Gaza that about 1,000 individual homes have been completely destroyed, 700 have been severely damaged and another 14,000 units have been partially damaged.
“[There is a] a proportion of approximately six people per dwelling in this city and in the fringe, i.e. there are more than 80,000 people who have lost their homes or have had their homes severely or partially damaged. This is a major catastrophe for this community, ”he said.
Nazmi Dahdouh, 70, a father of five, said his home in Gaza City was destroyed in an Israeli strike.
“We do not have another house. I will live in a tent on top of the ruins of my house until it is rebuilt, ”he told AFP news agency.
Malak Mattar, an artist in Gaza City, told Al Jazeera that the ceasefire had been a relief to his family.
“It simply came to our notice then. We are finally able to sleep for long hours, which has been private to us for the last 10 or 11 days, so it’s so good that we feel confident that there are no bombings, ”Mattar said.
“Now we can get food supplies … so we feel relieved.”
In occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli police cracked down on protesters on the grounds of the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday, two weeks after a similar crackdown triggered an escalation of violence. The place is sacred to both Muslims and Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount.
Clashes also broke out in several other parts of Israel-occupied East Jerusalem, and at the crossing point between Jerusalem and the Occupied West Bank, Israeli police said, adding that hundreds of border guards and guards had been mobilized.
Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid reported that occupied East Jerusalem said that while the war in Gaza was over, tensions were still rising elsewhere.
“There is a ceasefire, but this ceasefire only affects Gaza. The other problems between the two sides are very present,” Abdel-Hamid said.
“People were also celebrating today and had a sigh of relief because the war in Gaza is over, but tensions are still there.”
Israel and Hamas proclaim victory
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s bombing campaign against Palestinian armed groups had killed “more than 200” fighters in Gaza, including 25 senior commanders whom he described as an “exceptional success.”
Hamas, the Palestinian group that rules the coastal enclave, also won the “victory.”
“We have had a hard and hard blow that will leave its deep imprints” on Israel, said Ismail Haniyeh, the movement’s chief politician, pledging to rebuild Gaza.
He also thanked Iran for “providing funds and weapons” to Hamas.
Several world leaders welcomed the ceasefire agreement. U.S. President Joe Biden said he believed there was “a genuine opportunity to move forward” and stressed his commitment to “work toward it.” The European Union insisted that working for a “two-state solution” was the only viable option. Russia and China called for a return to peace talks.
Netanyahu’s office had announced a “unconditional” ceasefire on Thursday evening, and Hamas and the Palesitnian Islamic Jihad (another armed group in Gaza) confirmed it shortly afterwards.
Egyptian state media reported that two Egyptian security delegations had arrived to monitor the ceasefire agreement on both sides.
The U.S. State Department said top diplomat Antony Blinken “would meet with his Israeli, Palestinian and regional counterparts in the coming days to discuss recovery efforts and work together to build better futures for Israelis and Palestinians.” “.
UN chief Antonio Guterres said Israel and the Palestinians now have a responsibility to have “a serious dialogue to address the root causes of the conflict.”
He also called for a “robust support package for rapid and sustainable reconstruction and recovery.”