Flickering hope rests in the eyes of war-torn Palestinians as they struggle to find shelter.
Flickering hope rests in the eyes of war-torn Palestinians as they struggle to find shelter. UN Central Emergency Response Fund releases $18.5m for humanitarian efforts as help pours in from around the world after Gaza’s rubble.
Palestinian officials state at least $100m required to rebuild after 11-day of devastating bombardments. World Health Organization (WHO) spokeswoman Margaret Harris said: “real challenges are the closure” in the virtual UN briefing.
Meanwhile, trucks carrying aid pass into Gaza through Karem Abu Salem after it was reopened by Israel. They bring much-needed medicine, food, and fuel as thousands of displaced Palestinian’s struggle to find their way back home.
US President Biden held a joint news conference with South President Moon Jae-in on May 20. During the meeting held in the White House, he asked nations to step forward to rebuild the Palestinian homes. Biden said the US is “insisting that Israeli citizens, whether they be Arab or Jew, be treated equally.”
Egyptian brokered ceasefire came into effect early on Friday bringing an end to 11 days of bombardment with over 250 casualties, the majority belonging to Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister claims the bombardment as a ‘successful operation’ while Hamas claims it as a victory for Palestinians.
Following the ceasefire agreement, the Al-Aqsa mosque in the occupied East Jerusalem witnessed the Israeli police force. This time it was with tear gas and arms held against Palestinians following the Friday prayer. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP news agency that this was a ‘riot’ suppressing measures taken against Palestinians who threw stones at them.
Tension rose when the Damascus gate, an entry point into the old city, was fenced by Israeli police in early April. This was the beginning of Ramadan when thousands of Palestinians paid a visit to the Al-Aqsa mosque. Palestinians felt that they were being deliberately targeted while Israeli claimed it to be a crowd control measure. Though the fences were removed, the city witnessed fighting between unarmed Palestinians and armed Israeli forces.
Simultaneously, in Sheikh Jarrah, Palestinian families were threatened with forced expulsion and notice by the Israeli Supreme Court earlier in May. PM Netanyahu deemed the expulsion order which stands against International law is being deemed as a rational step.
According to PM Netanyahu, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel so the order does not break any law. As a result, thousands of frustrated Palestinians broke out on Sheikh Jarrah’s streets.
Amid the escalating friction, a large contingent of armed forces was deployed at Temple Mount on May 7th where over 70,000 Palestinians gathered to offer the final Friday prayer of Ramadan. The Israeli police stormed the compound with stun grenades and fired rubber-coated steel bullets. Out of the 215 injured Palestinians, around 153 were hospitalized.
As a result of festering clampdowns on Palestinian protestors by Israeli forces, Hamas issued a warning to withdraw Israeli forces from the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and Sheikh Jarrah by 18:00 on May 10th. When the deadline passed, Hamas fired long-range rockets towards Jerusalem for the first time in years.
Israeli launched hundreds of airstrikes in retaliation during the operation. Though Hamas fired over 4300 rockets, only a few reached the ground. Others were destroyed in the air. Israel suffered over 12 casualties. They were protected by Israeli’s strong Iron Dome Defense System.
Whereas, Israeli attacked Hamas military infrastructure including a vast tunnel network, a Palestinian refugee camp, The Associated Press and Al Jazeera office. Israel claimed to inflict heavy damage on Palestine.
According to the Gaza Health Ministry, at least 243 Palestinians were martyred, including 66 children and 39 women, with 1,910 people wounded through aerial bombardments. Over 58,000 Palestinians fled their homes, seeking shelter in U.N. schools.
Gaza infrastructure, already weakened by a 14-year blockade, faces a daunting pandemic outbreak, health emergency, high unemployment, and humanitarian crisis. According to the Save the Children advocacy group, The Israeli bombing has damaged over 50 schools across the territory, disrupting the education of over 42,000 children.
According to the World Health Organisation, at least 18 hospitals, clinics have been damaged along with one health facility. Gaza has run out of nearly half of all essential drugs.
Palestinians rallied by thousands on the streets after the ceasefire took effect on Friday. Despite the horrifying toll which brought devastation over the already impoverished Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Palestinians claim it as a clear victory over the more powerful State of Israel.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz lauded the bombardment. He claimed “achievements unprecedented in their scale, precision, and strategic significance for the struggle with terrorist organizations in Gaza.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed “exceptional success,” after the end of the deadly violence.
The ceasefire was brokered by Egypt after the US pressed down the Israeli government. PM Netanyahu faced heavy criticism from far-right parties who called the ceasefire agreement “embarrassing”. Gaza, on other hand, takes pride in the fact that even after a weaker defense system, Israel was not able to stop its airstrikes.
Despite the ceasefire agreement, Israeli forces yet again stormed at the Al-Aqsa mosque where Palestinians stayed to celebrate the truce. According to a written statement by the Palestine Red Crescent, over 20 people were left injured while two were hospitalized. Two hours later, reports came in that Palestinians of Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood were placed “under siege” by Israeli authorities. The clash again reflects a fragile ceasefire.
Turkish Foreign Minister tweeted “Ceasefire in Gaza, #Attack in Jerusalem! Israel’s insincere, hypocritical attitude continues.” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged both sides to respect the status quo at the holy sites and to show restraint.
The reason for the Israeli police firing stun grenades after the ceasefire is still unknown. They have arrested 16 people after the celebratory demonstration by hundreds in which they waved Palestinian and Hamas Flag.
Saudi Arabia King Salman has condemned the Israeli move. King Salman said that he will continuously ask all political parties to put pressure on Israel’s “occupation government”.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has received a call from US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken after the recent development. Abbas has appreciated US efforts “to provide humanitarian aid” and has urged the Biden administration to pressure Israel to halt the violence.
The 11-day war has taken aback the already weakened Gaza. If the required aid does not come in, the people of Gaza will be left in turmoil. The war of weapons may be over but the Palestinians war of discomfort and injustice still continues.
Is the worst far from over for the Palestinians? It might take days or maybe years for Gaza to jump back on its feet but the hope of peaceful sleep lingers in the eyes of war-torn displaced Palestinians.