September 30, 2023

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – A fragile truce between Israeli forces and militants in the Gaza Strip continued on Sunday after five days of fighting that left 33 Palestinians and two Israelis dead.

In an initial test of the ceasefire, Palestinian militants fired a rocket into an open area in southern Israel on Sunday evening. Palestinian media said the launch was caused by a technical error as terrorists were trying to deactivate the rocket.

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Israel responded with tank fire that hit two military posts belonging to Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist group. Hamas has stayed out of the recent round of fighting, but Israel says it holds the group responsible for fire from the area.

A fresh round of fighting in Gaza began on Tuesday after Israeli jets killed three top commanders of the Islamic Jihad militant group in response to rockets fired east from Gaza. Those killings sparked a firestorm of militants and the fire threatens to drag the region into another all-out war unless Egypt mediates a ceasefire that struck late Saturday.

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While the calm appeared to bring a sense of relief to Gaza’s 2 million people and hundreds of thousands of Israelis, who in recent days were largely confined to bomb shelters, the agreement did nothing to address those underlying issues. Who has fueled many rounds of fighting. Israeli and Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip over the years.

In Gaza, residents surveyed their surroundings for the latest damage caused, with empty holes left in apartments, as Israel said were the whereabouts of six senior Islamic Jihad members killed during the round. Gaza’s main cargo crossing with Israel reopened on Sunday after warnings that keeping it closed would shut down Gaza’s only power plant, deepening a power crisis.

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Israel was gradually lifting restrictions on residents in southern Israel, which bore the brunt of the rocket fire.

Israeli officials expressed satisfaction over the latest fighting, killing at least six members of Islamic Jihad’s top brass in what they say were precision strikes based on solid intelligence. But at least 13 of those killed in Gaza were civilians, including children under the age of 4 and women.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the targeted strikes on terrorists’ hideouts would reverberate across the region.

“Israel’s enemies in Gaza and far beyond Gaza know that even if they try to hide, we are able and ready to reach them at any time,” he told a meeting of his cabinet.

Israel has faced criticism from rights groups in the past over civilian casualties in its bombings in Gaza. Israel says it does its best to avoid harming civilians in its attacks and says militants operate from densely populated areas of the region to fire rockets indiscriminately at Israeli communities.

Even if some attacks were accurate, others destroyed the homes of non-involved Palestinians.

“If they want to target a house, let them target it alone. Why do you destroy the whole locality? Why?” said Mai Sarsone, whose home in Deir al-Bala was reduced to ruins in an Israeli attack.

Throughout the fighting, Israel’s repeated airstrikes targeting Islamic Jihad and its command centers and rocket-launching sites showed no signs of stopping the rocket fire, prompting Islamic Jihad to declare victory and declare victory late Saturday. The Palestinians were sent to cheer.

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The Israeli military reported more than 1,400 launches throughout the fighting, with some rockets reaching the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem areas. Israeli jets hit more than 400 targets, according to an initial military count, which also showed that about a fifth of the rockets misfired and landed in Gaza, while most of the rest were either intercepted or landed in open areas. stripped down.

An 80-year-old woman and a Palestinian laborer working inside Israel were killed by rocket fire. A Palestinian human rights group said three people, including two children, were killed by errant rockets in Gaza.

It was the latest in a long series of fighting between Israeli and Palestinian militants in Gaza since the Islamic militant group Hamas took over the seaside territory in 2007. Israel and Hamas have fought four wars, and there have been several minor flare-ups as well.

The more powerful Hamas has praised Islamic Jihad’s attacks but remained on the sidelines during the latest round of fighting, limiting the scope of the conflict. As the government actually blames the unsanitary conditions in the blockaded Gaza Strip, Hamas has recently tried to keep a lid on its conflict with Israel. Islamic Jihad on the other hand, another ideological and uncontrolled extremist group Committed to violence, has been at the forefront of the last few rounds of fighting with Israel.

Saturday’s deal did not address many of the causes of the repeated fighting, including Israel’s ongoing blockade of Gaza, the large arsenals of weapons held by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and Israel’s policies in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem .

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The Gaza violence comes after more than a year of fighting in the occupied West Bank, where Israeli forces have been conducting almost nightly arrest raids and Palestinians have repeatedly carried out attacks. Tensions could once again rise this week when nationalist Israelis hold an annual march through a sensitive area of ​​Jerusalem’s Old City, which Palestinians see as provocative.

Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza in the 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinians claim all three areas for a future state. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but Hamas later captured the territory and expelled forces loyal to the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority.

Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade of Gaza, which Israel says is a policy aimed at preventing Hamas from being armed. Palestinians and international rights groups say the policy, which restricts the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza, amounts to collective punishment.