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.
The apartheid regime's defeat against Hezbollah in 2006 marked the end of Israeli expansionism.
The regime's defeat against the Resistance in Gaza in 2021 marked the beginning of the end of apartheid. pic.twitter.com/LDBgYZiUxt
— Seyed Mohammad Marandi (@s_m_marandi) May 21, 2021
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.
THREAD: In their latest example of #MedicalApartheid & war crimes in Gaza, Israel has been deliberately targeting Gaza's healthcare system, which experts are warning will have disastrous effects for years to come. #GazaUnderAttack#ICC4Israel #UNInvestigateApartheid pic.twitter.com/afq7Q51JgY
— BDS movement (@BDSmovement) May 20, 2021
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 UN Human Rights Council is holding a special session on the grave human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, at 10:00 CET on 27 May 2021.
— UN Human Rights Council (@UN_HRC) May 20, 2021
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.
Watch | Hundreds of Palestinians take part in a rally in Shuafat refugee camp in occupied #Jerusalem celebrating the victory of the Palestinian resistance in the #Gaza Strip against the occupying state of Israel, last night. pic.twitter.com/QHmDq3sodY
— Quds News Network (@QudsNen) May 21, 2021
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.
This isn’t a ”ceasefire” – never is. Israel will continue to kill Palestinians by land, sea and air in the coming days, weeks and months as it has done with every ”ceasefire”. #FreePalestine
— Diana Buttu (@dianabuttu) May 20, 2021