The ceasefire mediated by Egypt also involved the Islamic Jihad group, the second-most influential faction in the enclave.
Musthafa Abd Rahman from Cairo, Egypt
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Palestinians and the world joyfully welcomed the ceasefire in Gaza Strip after 11 days of fighting. They were reminded to resolve the main issue of the Palestine-Israel conflict.
CAIRO, KOMPAS — Palestinian people in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip on Friday (21/5/2021) celebrated the ceasefire that ended the Gaza battle after 11 days. While the ceasefire was being monitored for observance by all parties, efforts have begun to reconstruct Gaza, which has been devastated by Israeli attacks.
Hamas, the resistance group of Palestine in Gaza Strip, and Israel agreed on a ceasefire starting on Friday at 2 a.m. local time. The ceasefire mediated by Egypt also involved the Islamic Jihad group, the second-most influential faction in the enclave.
Aside from residents of Gaza Strip, Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem—the territories separated due to Israeli occupation—also marked the ceasefire by taking to the streets. Screams of praises to God and yells lauding the resistance movement of Palestine were heard along with the horns of convoys of vehicles, breaking the silence of the early hours of Friday.
For Gaza Strip residents who were unable to enjoy Idul Fitri last week because of the battle, the elation at the ceasefire was felt as an Idul Fitri celebration. “Today is the start of Idul Fitri. Yes, we feel sad, as many people have lost their homes and relatives. However, we are celebrating (the ceasefire) now,” said Ahmed Amer, 30, a Gaza City resident.
Salwa al-Batrwai, another resident returning to his home with his family, said he felt like “a victor”. “I’m going to kiss the land, because my children and I remain alive. I can’t describe this feeling (of joy),” said the 60-year-old.
The Gaza armed conflict, the fourth between Hamas and Israel in more than one decade, broke out on 10 May. The battle started when Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem following a clash between Palestinians and Israeli police at Al Aqsa Mosque in the month of Ramadan and Israel’s plan to evict Palestinian residents from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah District, East Jerusalem.
As they were rejoicing, the Palestinians yelled rallying calls of standing up to Israel. They also shouted out the warning that Al Aqsa Mosque and East Jerusalem were red lines for the people of Palestine.
As reported by the Health Ministry of Palestine, the 11-day Gaza fighting killed 243 people on the Palestinian side, including 66 children and 39 women, with over 1,900 others wounded. In Israel, 12 people died, including a child and a soldier, with at least 336 people being treated.
Resolve basic issue
The Palestine-Israel ceasefire was also welcome with delight by world leaders, public figures and the international community. While praising the efforts of various parties to realize the ceasefire, many noted the importance of resolving the root issue of the Palestine-Israel conflict.
“Israeli & Palestinian leaders have a responsibility beyond the restoration of calm to start a serious dialogue to address the root causes of the conflict,” said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, as quoted by Al Ahram, affirmed that Egypt supported the Palestinian people in establishing a state according to the resolution of the U.N. Security Council. Cairo sent high-ranking security officials to Tel Aviv and Gaza Strip to watch over the ceasefire.
Biden made the message after being criticized for his partiality toward Israel and for blocking several U.N. Security Council statements demanding a ceasefire and de-escalation in the Palestine-Israel conflict.
In Washington, D.C., U.S. President Joe Biden stated: "I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy." Biden made the message after being criticized for his partiality toward Israel and for blocking several U.N. Security Council statements demanding a ceasefire and de-escalation in the Palestine-Israel conflict.
In the Vatican, the Catholic leader Pope Francis praised the ceasefire and appealed to all Catholic churches to offer prayers for peace. “I feel grateful to God for the decision of to discontinue the armed conflict and violence. I pray for the effort to take the path of dialogue and peace,” he said.
Amid joy over the achieved ceasefire, Foreign Affairs Minister Retno LP Marsudi invited the international community to focus on the basic problem in the Palestine-Israel conflict, which is occupation. “After the ceasefire, emphasis should be given to immediate negotiations for the settlement of the fundamental issue,” said Retno LP Marsudi from New York in the U.S.
When speaking at the U.N. General Assembly session, she stressed, “Occupation in the Israel-Palestine conflict is the primary issue.”
“We should remain committed and unified in opposing the illegal action of Israel (for the sake of) ending the occupation of Palestine. We should act now, together; the United Nations should act now,” Retno pointed out.
Restoration in Gaza
As of Friday night, the ceasefire was holding. Normal life was again noticeable in Gaza Strip. Vehicles started moving along the roads of Gaza City and other towns in Gaza Strip.
An incident of stones and Molotov cocktails thrown by Palestinians and tear gas shot by Israeli police occurred at the Al Aqsa Mosque complex but was brought under control within an hour.
Yesterday, Israel allowed goods and medicine, especially provided by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) handling Palestinian refugee affairs, to enter through the gate of Kerem Shalom. During the 11-day battle in Gaza Strip, Israel had closed the only gate for the delivery of supplies from Israel and other countries to Gaza Strip.
Various circles are now beginning to strive for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Gaza Strip. Head of the UNRWA in Gaza, Matthias Schmale, said his agency was recording different kinds of infrastructure damage and attempting to retore residents’ life following the battle. (AP/AFP/ REUTERS/ RAZ/MHD/SAM)