A ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad went into effect earlier this week following the bloodiest upsurge in violence since the war in the Gaza Strip commenced last year.
A “fragile” Egypt mediated a ceasefire truce with the assistance of the United Nations and Qatar, ending the three-day deadly bombings that killed at least 44 Palestinians, including 15 children, and wounded hundreds more.
Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs soon after hailed the truce, with its foreign ministry spokesperson, Majed al-Ansari, telling reporters that Doha engaged in phone calls with all relevant parties from Friday to negotiate and ask to stop the “waste of blood.”
“This agreement should not be broken in any way to ensure an appropriate amount of time where parties can work at the diplomatic level to avoid an escalation,” al-Ansari said.
“I believe that what we are see[ing] now … is the result of active diplomacy – not just on the part of Qatar, but at the regional and international level – aimed at stopping this aggression as soon as possible.”
The spokesman also commended Egypt for playing a significant role in the negotiations amid the shell shock.
VIDEO: The sun rises over Gaza City as an Egypt-brokered truce between Israel and Islamic Jihad militants appears to be holding early Monday.
The truce raises hopes that the recent intense conflict that has left at least 44 Palestinians dead, including 15 children, has ended pic.twitter.com/rlC3n0lFXE
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) August 8, 2022
The United States also welcomed the agreement, urging “all parties to fully implement the ceasefire and to ensure fuel and humanitarian supplies are following into Gaza as the fighting subsided,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement released Sunday.
He reassured the affected civilians that Washington was working side-by-side with the Jewish state, the Palestinian Authority, and other surrounding nations to “encourage a swift resolution to the conflict” that has taken dozens of lives—which he lamented without pointing fingers.
“The reports of civilian casualties in Gaza are a tragedy, whether by Israeli strikes against Islamic Jihad positions or the dozens of Islamic Jihad rockets that reportedly fell inside Gaza. My Administration supports a timely and thorough investigation into all of these reports, and we also call on all parties to fully implement the ceasefire, and to ensure fuel and humanitarian supplies are flowing into Gaza as the fighting subsides.” —US President Biden
The US continues to be committed to its “ironclad commitment” to protect Israelis and improve the quality of life for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, as both “deserve to live safely and securely and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and democracy.”
The truce occurred near noon local time on Sunday (2030 GMT) amid the last-minute shelling exchange. However, both parties made it clear to each other that retaliation would immediately occur if the ceasefire agreement were broken.
What Happened Last Friday?
Civilians living around the Gaza Strip lived a nightmare when Israel sent its warplanes to bombard the position of Islamic Jihad last Friday, killing at least ten people on the spot, including a commander of the militant group and a young girl.
BREAKING 🇵🇸 : Death toll rises to 24
— Zaid Ahmd (@realzaidzayn) August 7, 2022
The militants immediately responded by sending hundreds of their rockets across Israel. With this, buildings in Gaza have been reduced to rubble, while Israelis have been forced to seek safety in bomb shelters. The Iron Dome missile defense system reportedly intercepted the majority of the projectiles fired by the militants, and no severe injuries were recorded, according to Israeli media. Nevertheless, the Israeli emergency services said a handful of civilians were wounded by shrapnel, while 31 others sustained minor injuries.
What happened last Friday was the worst shelling in Gaza since the 11-day war broke out last year that killed at least 250 people in the besieged coastal region and about 13 Israelis in retaliation.
#UPDATE Israel's army is preparing for its aerial operation in Gaza to last a week, saying Saturday that there are currently no discussions on a ceasefire with Islamic Jihad militants pic.twitter.com/4MRmjRtP87
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) August 6, 2022
Dozens of Gazans who hadn’t slept since the bombing went to the streets to celebrate as soon as they heard about the successful truce. On the other hand, bereaved families had the chance to bury their dead in peace.
In a news report, one funeral was particularly joined by hundreds of mourners in Jabalia, located north of the Gaza Strip, where a family laid to rest four minors who died in the violent conflict.
Following the truce, Gaza’s sole power plant resumed operations after two days of shutdown as Israel lifted security restrictions, particularly on its southern borders. However, the electricity shutdown has spurred fear among the locals as hospitals were overwhelmed with casualties.
The secretary general of Islamic Jihad, Ziad al-Nakhala, said one of the critical agreements was an Egyptian guarantee that it would work towards the release of two of the group’s leaders which Israel is holding.
“The Islamic Jihad lays down its conditions. First, to unite all the Palestinians. Second, we demand that the enemy release our brother who has been on hunger strike, Khalil Awawda, and third, to release Sheikh Bassem al-Saadi,” al-Nakhala told reporters Sunday.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad—a group aligned with Gaza’s rulers Hamas but often acting independently—has fought a total of four wars with Israel since seizing control of the enclave in 2007.
The recent “preemptive operation” killed senior leaders of Islamic Jihad in Gaza, including Taysir al-Jabari and Khaled Mansour.