Israel-Hamas ceasefire comes into effect, life returns to Gaza

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A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas went into effect Friday morning and appeared to be holding in its early hours after 11 days of violence that left hundreds dead.

In Gaza, Palestinians celebrated the truce in the streets as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was angrily accused by his right-wing base of halting the operation too soon.

Israel reportedly lifted border restrictions with Gaza later Friday morning, hours after the 2 a.m. lull began.

The IDF also said it had killed around 200 Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants and destroyed more than 60 miles of a vast network of tunnels used by Hamas, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

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The fighting was the worst since the Gaza war in 2014. Like the three previous wars, the latest round of fighting ended inconclusive. Israel claimed to have inflicted heavy damage on Hamas, but once again was unable to stop the non-stop rocket barrages of the Islamic militant group.

Palestinian Rahaf Nuseir, 10, watches her as she stands in front of her family's destroyed homes, to which they returned after a ceasefire reached after an 11-day war between Hamas leaders in Gaza and Israel, in the town of Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, Friday, May 21, 2021 (Associated Press)
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Palestinian Rahaf Nuseir, 10, watches her as she stands in front of her family’s destroyed homes, to which they returned after a ceasefire reached after an 11-day war between Hamas leaders in Gaza and Israel, in the town of Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, Friday, May 21, 2021 (Associated Press)

At least 230 Palestinians were killed, including 65 children and 39 women, and 1,710 people were injured, according to Gaza’s health ministry, which does not divide the figures between combatants and civilians. Twelve people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl, were also killed.

The ceasefire was negotiated by Egypt and welcomed internationally.

President Biden on Thursday hailed the end of the violence. “I think we have a real opportunity to progress, and I am determined to work on it,” he said.

The United States is committed to helping Israel replenish its supply of interceptor missiles for its Iron Dome rocket defense system, Biden said, and to work with the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority – not Hamas – to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken planned to meet with leaders of Israel, Palestinians and other Middle Eastern leaders “in the coming days to discuss recovery efforts and work together to build a better future for them. Israelis and Palestinians, ”the State Department said.

An Israeli soldier sits on top of a tank at a staging area near the border with the Gaza Strip in southern Israel on Friday, May 21, 2021. A ceasefire came into effect on Friday morning after 11 days of heavy fighting between Israel and Gaza activist Hamas.  leaders who were inflamed by the protests and clashes in Jerusalem.  (Associated press)

An Israeli soldier sits on top of a tank at a staging area near the border with the Gaza Strip in southern Israel on Friday, May 21, 2021. A ceasefire came into effect on Friday morning after 11 days of heavy fighting between Israel and Gaza activist Hamas. leaders who were inflamed by the protests and clashes in Jerusalem. (Associated press)

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Fighting erupted on May 10, when Hamas militants in Gaza fired long-range rockets at Jerusalem. The roadblock came after days of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police inside the compound of Al-Aqsa Mosque. Harsh police tactics in the compound, built on a site sacred to Muslims and Jews, and the threat of eviction of dozens of Palestinians by Jewish settlers had inflamed tensions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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