Israeli offensive ends after declaration of ceasefire, Gazans claim victory

The ceasefire was mediated by Egypt and came into effect at 2 am on Friday, ending 11 days of Israeli air strikes on Gaza. Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied territories took to the streets to celebrate a victory

May 21, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Photo : The Palestine Information Center/Twitter

Bringing relief to millions of Palestinians, a ceasefire came into effect in Gaza at 2 am on Friday, ending the 11-day-long Israeli offensive. The deal agreed upon by both Israel and Hamas and Islamic Jihad was mediated by Egypt on Thursday. Gazans celebrated the end of the offensive as a victory after Israel’s caretaker prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced, in a statement, that the security cabinet had unanimously accepted it without any condition.

After the announcement of the ceasefire, thousands of Palestinians in Gaza came out on the streets waving Palestinian flags. Several Palestinians claimed on Twitter that Israel’s agreeing to the ceasefire deal is a “victory of the Palestinian People” and a defeat of Israel. 

Palestinians in all occupied territories stood against the Israeli offensive and carried out several protests in solidarity with the people of Gaza. Palestinians had also observed a nationwide strike on May 17 against the Israeli attacks.

Seyed Mohammad Marandi, an Iranian scholar, expressed the hope that the Israeli defeat this time will lead to the end of the apartheid regime in Palestine. He also compared it with Israel’s defeat in the war against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in 2006.  

Hezbollah in Lebanon also issued a statement welcoming the “historic victory” of the “heroic Palestinian people” and the “Zionist enemy.”

Israel’s prosecution for war crimes

Though Palestinians have welcomed the ceasefire, several have also raised the demand for the prosecution of Israel for human rights violations and war crimes committed during the offensive.

The United Nation Human Rights Council has already announced a special session on May 27 to discuss the grave human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The 11 days of Israeli air strikes on Gaza killed at least 234 Palestinians, including 65 children, and injured over 1,700 people, apart from causing massive damage to civilian infrastructure. According to UN estimates, around 450 Palestinian homes were destroyed and over 90,000 people were displaced.

At least 12 Israelis were killed in the rocket attacks carried out by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Following the ceasefire, Israel announced the end of all emergency restrictions inside the country.

Sheikh Jarrah and Al-Aqsa

Hamas’ foreign relations chief Osama Hamdan claimed to have received concrete assurances regarding Israel’s move to evict residents of Sheikh Jarrah. However, Hamas’ claims were refuted by Israel’s defense minister Benny Gantz, Times of Israel reported.   

Meanwhile, several victory processions were taken out in Eastern Jerusalem after the announcement of the ceasefire. Thousands of Palestinians gathered at the Al-Aqsa compound and other places to celebrate.

Several Palestinians criticized the US and European Union for their statements in support of the announcement of the ceasefire, citing their failures to support similar calls earlier.  The US had earlier objected to a joint statement by the members of the UN security council over the Gaza bombings. Netanyahu had refused to pay heed to US president Joe Biden’s call for a ceasefire on Wednesday.    

Meanwhile, China also welcomed the ceasefire. According to Al-Jazeera, China’s International Development Corporation promised to help in the rebuilding of Gaza and provide immediate relief to people who have lost their homes.

Though the ceasefire was welcomed as a temporary relief. several observers emphasized the need to end Israeli occupation of Palestine to avoid similar violence in the future. They also highlighted how Israel carries out daily offensives against Palestinians irrespective of ceasefires signed in the past.