Ceasefire takes effect in Israel and Gaza

IDF speaks of “significant achievements in the operation, some of which are unprecedented”


GAZA CITY, GAZA - JUNE 18: Member of Hamas' Political Bureau, Khalil Al-Hayya holds a press conference on Gulf row on June 18, 2017 in Gaza. (Footage by Montaser Al Sawaf/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

With both sides claiming they were victorious, a fragile ceasefire has come into effect between Israel and Hamas.

Hamas is claiming that it pummelled Israel to a ceasefire, forcing it to stop striking its targets in Gaza. Jerusalem is insisting that it dealt a significant blow to Hamas and chose an end point that fitted its strategic interests.

Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said his movement was experiencing “euphoria of victory,” while the official Israeli statement on the ceasefire said the IDF experienced “unprecedented” gains over Gaza militants.

It said that before deciding on the ceasefire ministers were briefed by security officials on the “significant achievements in the operation, some of which are unprecedented”.

Rockets were launched from Gaza to Israel until minutes before the ceasefire, which began at midnight UK time, and an Israeli man was lightly injured around an hour before it took effect. Soon after quiet descended on border, fireworks and celebrations were seen in Gaza, some Palestinian areas in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and Israel’s largest Arab city, Umm al-Fahm.

The ceasefire was mediated by Egypt, with the backing of America. President Biden has praised Israel for agreeing to stop fighting, reaffirmed his belief in Israel’s right to self-defence, and said that Washington will help to replenish the famously expensive supplies for the Iron Dome missile defence system.

"I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely, and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy," Mr Biden said. "My administration will continue our quiet and relentless diplomacy toward that end."

While the ceasefire is holding, at least for now, there are major differences between accounts of what has been agreed. Israel called it a “mutual ceasefire without pre-conditions,” and Mr Biden echoed that account, referring to an “unconditional ceasefire.” 

But Hamas is claiming that it received guarantees regarding Israel's conduct in Jerusalem, including in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where there are extreme tensions over the approval of Israeli courts - soon expected to be final - to evict several Palestinian families.

Senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan is quoted saying: "The resistance movement has received guarantees from the mediators that the aggression on Gaza will stop."

He added: “Other guarantees have also been received about the expulsion of the occupying regime from al-Quds’ Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and the al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Analysts believe this insistence by Hamas leaves a possibility that the organisation, or its supporters in Jerusalem, could respond to Sheikh Jarrah evictions with fresh violence.

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