Gazans survey damage as Israel-Palestinian ceasefire holds
Thousands of displaced Gazans started going back to their homes to check for damage on May 21 after a ceasefire appeared to take hold following 11 days of deadly fighting.
A truce between Israel and Hamas took hold on Friday after the worst violence in years, with U.S. President Joe Biden pledging to salvage the devastated Gaza Strip and the United Nations urging renewed Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.
Israel’s bombardment of Gaza ceased after 11 days under an agreement mediated by Egypt, but with negotiations to maintain stability still to be held, it was unclear how long it would last.
Five more bodies were pulled from the rubble in the densely populated Palestinian enclave,taking the death toll to 243, including 66 children, with more than 1,900 wounded and critical infrastructure damaged as well as thousands of homes.
In Israel, the military said a soldier had been killed as well as 12 civilians; hundreds have been treated for injuries in rocket salvoes that caused panic and sent people rushing into shelters as far away as Tel Aviv.
Palestinians who had huddled in fear of Israeli shelling poured into Gaza’s streets, embracing one another in celebration in front of bombed-out buildings.
Mosque loudspeakers feted “the victory of the resistance achieved over the Occupation (Israel).” read more Cars driving around East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah at dawn flew Palestinian flags and honked horns, echoing the scenes in Gaza.
Egypt said it would send two delegations to monitor it as the warring parties said they were ready to retaliate for any violations.
The violence erupted on May 10, triggered by Palestinians’ anger at what they saw as Israeli curbs on their rights in Jerusalem,especially in Al-Aqsa mosque during the Ramadan fasting month.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the operation had hit the ability of Hamas, the Islamist group which runs Gaza, to launch missiles at Israel.
Hamas however cast the fighting as successful resistance to a militarily and economically stronger foe.
Turkey: Ceasefire must be sustainable
A written statement by the Foreign Ministry expressed its hope that the ceasefire will be sustainable, while underlining that the problem between Israel and Palestine needs a permanent resolve through the approval of a two-state formula.
“We expect the international community, especially the members of the U.N. Security Council, to take action to end this persecution completely,” read the statement.
Holding Israel accountable for the crimes it committed in Palestine and lifting the blockade against Gaza are also needed to avoid future sufferings of Palestinians, it reiterated that Israel should end its occupation of Palestinian territories.
In the meantime, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed that Turkey will continue to expose how Israel has been occupying Palestinian territories since 1947, on the occasion of a ceremony held in Istanbul on May 21.
Erdoğan recalled that Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and the foreign ministers of some other Islamic countries attended the U.N. General Assembly’s special session in New York on May 20 and loudly told the world how Israel has been occupying the Palestinian territories piece by piece since 1947.
“We will continue to tell this, we won’t stop. We’ll show all these maps [of Palestine]. Because the whole world needs to know what kind of a terror state Israel is,” he said.
Çavuşoğlu, in his speech at the U.N., repeated that Tel Aviv is the sole responsible party for the escalation that claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians.
“Israel alone is responsible for what is happening today in Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza,” he said. “The repetition of such tragedies cannot be prevented unless and until Israel is held accountable for its crimes and its sense of impunity is put to an end.”
Çavuşoğlu stressed Israel’s 14-year blockade of Gaza has effectively turned the besieged coastal enclave “into the largest open-air prison in the world,” noting over 2 million people live in a territory of just 365 square kilometers.
“Through repetition, the perpetrators of this tragedy want us to become insensitive to these outrageous crimes, the oppression of the Palestinian people and violations of their basic human rights and freedoms,” said Çavuşoğlu.