Israel and the Palestinian militant organization Islamic Jihad have struck a truce, putting an end to three days of combat in Gaza that has killed at least 44 Palestinians, including 15 children.
Despite a barrage of Israeli air assaults and Palestinian rocket fire till the last minute, the truce began at 11:30 p.m. local time on Sunday (20:30 GMT).
While both sides agreed to a cease-fire, one has warned the other that any further violence will be met with force.
“Local government offices have stated that they would reopen to the public, and colleges have announced that they will reopen to students.” The municipality of Gaza, as well as other municipalities, have indicated that they would deploy equipment to clear the rubble and do a first evaluation of the devastation.”
Israel has been heavily bombarding Gaza since Friday, demolishing structures and bombing refugee camps. The Israeli military claimed it was targeting members of the Islamic Jihad, including top leaders, while Palestinian sources say over half of the 44 individuals killed were civilians.
“The Islamic Jihad establishes its terms. First and foremost, all Palestinians must unify. Second, we demand that the enemy free our brother on hunger strike, Khalil Awawda, and third, that Sheikh Bassem al-Saadi is released,” al-Nakhala told reporters in Tehran.
Egypt said in a statement that it is “exerting efforts to release” Awawda and “transport him for treatment,” and that it is seeking to free al-Saadi “as soon as feasible.”
The violence in Gaza was the bloodiest since an 11-day conflict last year, which killed at least 250 Palestinians in the impoverished coastal enclave and 13 in Israel.
Release of prisoners:
Egypt brokered the truce on Sunday, with assistance from the United Nations and Qatar. One of the important agreements, according to Islamic Jihad secretary-general Ziad al-Nakhala, was an Egyptian commitment that it would work toward the release of two of the group’s leaders who are being jailed by Israel. Israel did not respond immediately.
The arrest of Al-Saadi last week in the occupied West Bank was a major catalyst for the present flare-up. Following his detention, Israeli soldiers started “pre-emptive” assaults on the Gaza Strip in order to avert retaliation strikes. Taysir al-Jabari and Khaled Mansour, commanders of Islamic Jihad, were slain in separate strikes on Friday and Saturday.
In the occupied West Bank, Israeli soldiers apprehended 19 additional members of the Islamic Jihad.
“As far as Israel is concerned, this operation is ended,” Natasha Ghoneim of Al Jazeera reported from West Jerusalem. “The Israeli goal was to neutralize Islamic Jihad, with most, if not all, top leadership also being slain.”
Ghoneim claims that Israel has also split Islamic Jihad from Hamas, the bigger organization that rules the Gaza Strip. Since assuming control of the enclave in 2007, Hamas has fought four wars with Israel.
“There was worry that if this operation dragged on and the death toll rose, Hamas may join the conflict.” “It appears that has not occurred for the time being, with Hamas sitting on the sidelines,” Ghoneim added.
Despite the cease-fire, Palestinians in Gaza say they are unable to live regular lives due to Israel’s 15-year embargo.
Approximately 2.3 million people are crammed into the tiny coastal enclave, with Israel and Egypt banning people and commodities movement in and out of the enclave and enforcing a naval blockade, claiming security concerns.
“People in Gaza don’t get to return to anything resembling normalcy because they are still living under Israel’s siege, which is a form of silent violence against every man, woman, and child in Gaza, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for 15 years,” said Ali Abunimah, director of The Electronic Intifada, a website devoted to Palestinians under occupation.
“Unfortunately, it is brittle. This is something that will happen again. I can’t tell you if it will be in a day, a week, a month, or a year. But it will continue because Israel has utter impunity for its crimes against the Palestinian people, and not just impunity, but full and active backing. Remember, it was attacking Gaza with weaponry supplied by the US, EU, and Canada, all of which supported Israel.”
“And these are the same nations who are purportedly providing billions of dollars to Ukraine to combat occupation and invasion, but here they are assisting Israel in perpetrating occupation, invasion, and terror against a civilian population,” he continued.
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