January 30, 2023

A fragile ceasefire to end nearly three days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza lasted all night into Monday morning – a sign that the latest round of violence appears to have subsided.

The escalation is the worst fighting between Israel and militant groups in Gaza since Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas movement fought an 11-day war last year, adding to the devastation and misery that has plagued the besieged Gaza Strip for years.

Since Friday, Israeli planes have bombed targets in Gaza, while the Iranian-backed Palestinian Jihad movement has fired hundreds of missiles at Israel.

Over the three days of fighting, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said, 43 Palestinians were killed, including 15 children and four women, and 311 were wounded. Israel said some of the dead were killed by the wrong missiles.

On Monday, Israel said it had partially reopened the crossings into Gaza to meet humanitarian needs and would open them fully if calm persists.

The lives of hundreds of thousands of Israelis have been disrupted during the violence. The Israel Defense Forces said that security precautions imposed in recent days on residents of southern Israel were gradually lifted on Monday.

The violence had threatened to escalate into another all-out war but ended up being contained because the ruling Hamas movement in Gaza remained on the sidelines, possibly because it feared Israeli reprisals and the cancellation of economic understandings with Israel, including Israeli work permits for thousands of Gazans. which consolidates its control over the coastal strip.

Israel and Hamas have fought four wars since the terror group invaded the region in 2007.

Israel launched its operation with a strike on Friday on an Islamic Jihad leader, saying there were “concrete threats” of an anti-tank missile attack against Israelis in response to the arrest of another prominent member of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank last week. This arrest came months after Israeli raids in the West Bank to arrest suspects, following a series of Palestinian attacks against Israel.

It killed another Islamic Jihad leader in a strike on Saturday.

Israel said some of the deaths during this tour were caused by accidental rocket fire, including an incident in the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza in which six Palestinians were killed on Saturday. On Sunday, a shell hit a house in the same area of ​​Jabalia, killing two men. The Palestinians blamed Israel, while Israel said it was investigating whether the area had been hit by a mistaken missile.

The outbreak of violence was a major test for interim Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who lacks experience leading military operations. However, he unleashed the attack less than three months before the general election in which he is campaigning to retain office.

President Joe Biden said he welcomed the ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza-based militants.

“In the past 72 hours, the United States has worked with officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, and others across the region to encourage a speedy resolution of the conflict,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

The UN Security Council is due to hold an emergency meeting on Monday on the violence. And China, which holds the presidency of the council this month, decided to hold the session in response to the request of the United Arab Emirates, which represents the Arab countries in the council, as well as China, France, Ireland and Norway.

“We affirm our commitment to do everything in our power to end the ongoing escalation, ensure the safety and security of the civilian population, and follow up on the file of Palestinian prisoners,” said the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wencesland. , in the current situation.

The Israeli military said that militants in Gaza fired about 580 rockets at Israel. The army said its air defenses intercepted several of them, and fired two toward Jerusalem. Islamic Jihad has fewer fighters and supporters than Hamas.

Islamic Jihad has fewer fighters and supporters than Hamas, and little is known about its arsenal. Both groups advocate the destruction of Israel, but have different priorities, with Hamas constrained by demands for governance.

Hamas had a strong incentive to avoid another war. The war between Israel and Hamas last year, one of four major conflicts, and many small battles over the past 15 years, took a heavy toll on the impoverished region’s 2.3 million residents.

Over the past year, Israel and Hamas have reached tacit understandings based on trade calm in exchange for work permits and a slight easing of the border blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt when Hamas swept the region 15 years ago. Israel issued 12,000 work permits to workers in Gaza, and blocked the possibility of another 2,000 work permits being granted.


Goldenberg reported from Tel Aviv, Israel. Associated Press writer Edith M. Leader at the United Nations.

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