Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Palestinians See Victory in Gaza Truce as Israel Warns Hamas
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 3 years ago on
May 21, 2021

Share

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Palestinians rallied by the thousands Friday after a cease-fire took effect in the latest Gaza war, with many viewing it as a costly but clear victory for the Islamic militant group Hamas. Israel vowed to respond with a “new level of force” to further hostilities.

The 11-day war left more than 250 dead — the vast majority Palestinians — and brought widespread devastation to the already impoverished Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. But the rocket barrages that brought life to a standstill in much of Israel were seen by many Palestinians as a bold response to perceived Israeli abuses in Jerusalem, the emotional heart of the conflict.

Netanyahu Warns Against Further Attacks

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against further attacks, saying, “If Hamas thinks we will tolerate a drizzle of rockets, it is wrong.” He vowed to respond with “a new level of force” against aggression anywhere in Israel.

The Israeli leader, who is facing criticism from his hawkish base for ending the offensive prematurely, said Israel had done “daring and new things, and this without being dragged into unnecessary adventures.” He added that Israeli forces had caused “maximum damage to Hamas with a minimum of casualties in Israel.”

He said Israeli strikes killed more than 200 militants, including 25 senior commanders, and hit more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) of militant tunnels. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant group have only acknowledged 20 fighters killed.

The Gaza Health Ministry says at least 243 Palestinians were killed, including 66 children, with 1,910 people wounded. It does not differentiate between fighters and civilians. Twelve people were killed in Israel, all but one of them civilians, including a 5-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl.

Clashes and Protests Continue Amid Cease-Fire Celebrations

The truce faced an early test when clashes broke out between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police following Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem sacred to Jews and Muslims. Clashes there earlier this month were one of the main triggers for the war.

It was unclear what sparked Friday’s violence. Police fired stun grenades and tear gas, and Palestinians hurled rocks after hundreds took part in a celebratory demonstration in which they waved Palestinian and Hamas flags and cheered the militant group. Israeli police said they arrested 16 people.

Protesters also clashed with Israeli troops in parts of the occupied West Bank, which has seen violent demonstrations in recent days linked to Jerusalem and Gaza.

Thousands took to the streets of Gaza as the cease-fire took hold at 2 a.m. Young men waved Palestinian and Hamas flags, passed out sweets, honked horns and set off fireworks. Celebrations also broke out overnight in east Jerusalem and across the occupied West Bank. Israel captured all three territories in the 1967 war and the Palestinians want them for their future state.

Residents Deal with the Aftermath of the War’s Destruction

An open-air market in Gaza City that was closed throughout the war reopened, and shoppers stocked up on fresh tomatoes, cabbage and watermelons. Workers in orange traffic vests swept up rubble from surrounding roads.

“Life will return, because this is not the first war, and it will not be the last war,” said shop owner Ashraf Abu Mohammad. “The heart is in pain, there have been disasters, families wiped from the civil registry, and this saddens us. But this is our fate in this land, to remain patient.”

There was little to celebrate in the hard-hit northern town of Beit Hanoun. Residents, many of whom had lost loved ones, surveyed wrecked homes.

“We see such huge destruction here, it’s the first time in history we’ve seen this,” said Azhar Nsair. “The cease-fire is for people who didn’t suffer, who didn’t lose their loved ones, whose homes were not bombed.”

Rescue workers were still recovering bodies from areas that had been too dangerous to enter. Five were collected Friday in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, including that of a 3-year-old, the Red Crescent emergency service said.

The War Ends Inconclusively

Like the three previous wars, the latest round of fighting ended inconclusively. Israel claimed it inflicted heavy damage on Hamas but once again was unable to halt the rockets.

Hamas also claimed victory but faces the daunting challenge of rebuilding in a territory already suffering from high unemployment and a coronavirus outbreak, and from years of blockade by Egypt and Israel.

The fighting began May 10, when Hamas militants in Gaza fired long-range rockets toward Jerusalem. The barrage came after days of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police at Al-Aqsa. Heavy-handed police tactics at the compound, and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers had inflamed tensions.

Competing claims to Jerusalem, one of the most volatile issues in the decades-old conflict, have repeatedly triggered bouts of violence.

The cease-fire was brokered by neighboring Egypt after the U.S. pressed Israel to wind down the offensive. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to visit the region “to discuss recovery efforts and working together to build better futures for Israelis and Palestinians.” the State Department said.

Hamas and other militant groups fired over 4,000 rockets at Israeli cities. Dozens landed as far north as the bustling commercial capital of Tel Aviv.

Israel, meanwhile, carried out hundreds of airstrikes. A senior Israeli army official said Israel hit 1,600 “military targets” during the 11-day conflict.

Netanyahu Faces Criticism

The United States, Israel’s closest and most important ally, initially backed what it said was Israel’s right to self-defense against indiscriminate rocket fire. But as fighting dragged on and deaths mounted, the Americans increasingly pressured Israel to stop the offensive.

President Joe Biden welcomed the cease-fire. He said the U.S. was committed to helping Israel replenish its supply of interceptor missiles and to working with the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority — not Hamas — to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Netanyahu faced heavy criticism from members of his hawkish, nationalist base. Gideon Saar, a former ally who leads a small party opposed to the prime minister, called the cease-fire “embarrassing.” Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the far-right Jewish Power party, tweeted that the cease-fire was “a grave surrender to terrorism and the dictates of Hamas.”

In a potentially damaging development for the Israeli leader, the Palestinian militants claimed Netanyahu had agreed to halt further Israeli actions at the Al Aqsa Mosque and to call off the planned evictions of Palestinians in the nearby Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. An Egyptian official said only that tensions in Jerusalem “will be addressed.”

Some 58,000 Palestinians sought shelter in crowded U.N. schools amid a coronavirus outbreak. Thousands returned to their homes as the truce took hold.

Gaza’s Already Decrepit Infrastructure Further Destroyed

The fighting dealt another blow to Gaza’s already decrepit infrastructure. The small coastal territory, home to more than 2 million Palestinians, has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas seized power from forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007, confining his authority to parts of the West Bank.

The World Health Organization says 30 health facilities in Gaza were damaged, with one clinic destroyed and another with significant damage. An airstrike damaged the only facility in Gaza processing coronavirus tests, forcing a halt to testing in the territory.

Fabrizio Carboni, regional director for the Near and Middle East at the International Committee of the Red Cross, estimated there were “several hundred” pieces of unexploded ordnance strewn in Gaza, adding that medical supplies were a pressing need.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Local Leaders Must Put Their Shoulders Into Making Fresno ‘Education City USA’

DON'T MISS

EdSource Welcomes Fresno News Veteran Jim Boren to Its Board

DON'T MISS

Senate Dismissed Two Articles of Impeachment, Ending Trial on Mayorkas

DON'T MISS

Netanyahu Dismisses Calls for Restraint, Says Israel Will Decide Iran Attack Response

DON'T MISS

New Study Calculates Climate Change’s Economic Bite Will Hit About $38 Trillion a Year by 2049

DON'T MISS

Biden Pledges to Block Japanese Takeover of US Steel and Promises Tariffs on Chinese Steel

DON'T MISS

Don Arax Talks About His New Football Job at Visalia’s Central Valley Christian

DON'T MISS

Dem House Challengers Salas, Gray Flex Fundraising Muscle

DON'T MISS

Career-High Strike Outs for Ryan Weathers as Marlins Best Giants 6-3

DON'T MISS

LeBron’s Lakers Top Pelicans in Play-in, Set up Playoff Rematch With Nuggets

UP NEXT

Storm Dumps Record Rain and Floods Dubai’s Airport

UP NEXT

Myanmar’s Ousted Leader Suu Kyi Moved From Prison to House Arrest Due to Heat, Military Says

UP NEXT

NPR Editor Suspended Over Claims of Network’s ‘Progressive Worldview’

UP NEXT

Wall Street’s Mixed Trading Day

UP NEXT

New Recruiting Programs Put Army, Air Force on Track to Meet Enlistment Goals. Navy Will Fall Short

UP NEXT

Justice Thomas Misses Supreme Court Session Monday With No Explanation

UP NEXT

‘Civil War’ Declares Victory at the Box Office, Toppling ‘Godzilla X Kong’

UP NEXT

Scheffler Turns the Masters Into Another Sunday Yawner With a Dominating Win

UP NEXT

Vegas, US Tour and More Signings: Wrexham Has Plenty of Fun and Work Ahead After Latest Promotion

UP NEXT

NBA Play-in Game Preview: West Games on Tuesday, East Games on Wednesday, Eliminations on Friday

Netanyahu Dismisses Calls for Restraint, Says Israel Will Decide Iran Attack Response

1 hour ago

New Study Calculates Climate Change’s Economic Bite Will Hit About $38 Trillion a Year by 2049

2 hours ago

Biden Pledges to Block Japanese Takeover of US Steel and Promises Tariffs on Chinese Steel

2 hours ago

Don Arax Talks About His New Football Job at Visalia’s Central Valley Christian

2 hours ago

Dem House Challengers Salas, Gray Flex Fundraising Muscle

4 hours ago

Career-High Strike Outs for Ryan Weathers as Marlins Best Giants 6-3

4 hours ago

LeBron’s Lakers Top Pelicans in Play-in, Set up Playoff Rematch With Nuggets

4 hours ago

Storm Dumps Record Rain and Floods Dubai’s Airport

5 hours ago

Mookie Betts Matches Career Best with 5 Hits in Dodgers’ 6-2 Victory Over Nationals

5 hours ago

Klay Thompson Misses All 10 Shots in Potential Last Game With the Warriors

5 hours ago

Local Leaders Must Put Their Shoulders Into Making Fresno ‘Education City USA’

Fresno leaders keep searching for the silver bullet that will make California’s fifth-largest city sparkle. And they just keep shootin...

3 mins ago

3 mins ago

Local Leaders Must Put Their Shoulders Into Making Fresno ‘Education City USA’

29 mins ago

EdSource Welcomes Fresno News Veteran Jim Boren to Its Board

1 hour ago

Senate Dismissed Two Articles of Impeachment, Ending Trial on Mayorkas

1 hour ago

Netanyahu Dismisses Calls for Restraint, Says Israel Will Decide Iran Attack Response

2 hours ago

New Study Calculates Climate Change’s Economic Bite Will Hit About $38 Trillion a Year by 2049

2 hours ago

Biden Pledges to Block Japanese Takeover of US Steel and Promises Tariffs on Chinese Steel

2 hours ago

Don Arax Talks About His New Football Job at Visalia’s Central Valley Christian

4 hours ago

Dem House Challengers Salas, Gray Flex Fundraising Muscle

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend