Life slowly resumes in devastated Gaza Strip after ceasefire

Cafes reopened, fishermen took to sea and traders dusted shelves on Saturday as Gazans slowly resumed their daily lives after a deadly 11-day conflict between Hamas and Israel.

Aid entered Gaza, the stranded enclave controlled by Islamist group Hamas, as focus was put on rebuilding devastated territory a day after a ceasefire was put in place .

The truce brokered by Egypt ended Israeli airstrikes on crowded Palestinian territory and rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups into Israel since May 10.

Rescuers searched for bodies or survivors in piles of rubble after what Gazans on the streets called the latest “war” or “escalation” with the Jewish state.

In the port of Gaza City, Rami Abu Amira and a dozen other fishermen prepared their nets before setting out to sea for the first time in two weeks.

“We have to eat,” he said after Gaza’s coast guard authorized fishing again, adding that he would stay close to the coast to stay safe.

“We fishermen are afraid that the Israeli navy will shoot us. It’s up to everyone to decide whether to go or not. “

‘Lost everything’

The latest round of shelling has killed 248 people in Gaza, including 66 children, and injured more than 1,900 since May 10, according to the Hamas-led health ministry.

The United Nations says more than half of those killed, the overwhelming majority of Israeli airstrikes, were civilians.

Israel claims to have killed “more than 200 terrorists”, including 25 commanders.

During the same period, rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups killed 12 people in Israel, including a child, a teenager, an Israeli soldier, an Indian and two Thai nationals, according to police. Some 357 people in Israel were injured.

On Friday night in Gaza, Palestinian families flocked to seaside cafes to breathe the fresh air or smoke shisha.

In a clothing store near the ruins of a ravaged tower in Gaza’s upscale Rimal neighborhood, models still wore the latest trends from 2021, but they were now covered in dust.

Bilal Mansur, 29, said all his merchandise had been ruined.

“There is dust everywhere, dust from Israeli bombs clinging to clothes. We will not be able to sell them, ”he said.

Palestinian fishermen mend their nets before setting out to sea on Saturday at Gaza’s main port. | AFP-JIJI

The owner of the nearby store, Wael Amin al-Sharafa, said he stocked his shop with new clothes to sell during the generally busy Eid al-Fitr season at the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

“But now all is lost,” he said. “Who is going to pay for all of this? I have no idea.”

“ Two-state solution ”

Convoys of trucks carrying aid began crossing into Gaza on Friday through the Kerem Shalom crossing after it was reopened by Israel, bringing much-needed medicine, food and fuel.

The UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund said it had released $ 18.5 million for humanitarian efforts.

The latest round of Israeli bombing has forced 91,000 people to flee their homes in Gaza, according to the United Nations aid agency.

It hit 1,447 homes, completely destroying 205 residential blocks or houses, as well as damaging electricity and water, according to authorities in Gaza.

The UN says three main desalination plants providing drinking water to more than 400,000 people have ceased to function.

Both sides quickly claimed victory, with Egyptian state media saying two Egyptian security delegations had arrived to monitor the deal.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Israeli bombing campaign had been an “outstanding success”.

Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh said they had “struck a painful and severe blow that will leave its deep marks” on Israel, and thanked Iran for “providing funds and arms.”

The international community welcomed the ceasefire.

On Saturday, a woman walks past a destroyed building in the al-Rimal shopping district in Gaza City.  |  AFP-JIJI
On Saturday, a woman walks past a destroyed building in the al-Rimal shopping district in Gaza City. | AFP-JIJI

US President Joe Biden pledged to help organize the reconstruction efforts in Gaza and said the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel was the “only answer” to the conflict.

“We still need a two-state solution,” he said.

Peace talks have stalled since 2014, especially on key issues of the status of occupied East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Al-Aqsa clashes

As a reminder of the lingering tensions despite the ceasefire, Israeli police fired stun grenades at worshipers on Friday in the highly sensitive compound of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Israeli forces beat an AFP photographer who was covering the unrest there.

The incident was reminiscent of the tensions in Jerusalem that sparked the latest wave of conflict.

Israeli security forces cracked down on protests against the eviction of Palestinian families from their homes to make way for Jewish settlers in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

And they had also settled with worshipers at Al-Aqsa, the third holiest site in Islam.

Hamas launched rockets from Gaza into Israel on May 10 in “solidarity” with the Palestinians in Jerusalem.

The conflict sparked mob violence in Israel and clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters in the West Bank.

Israeli forces have killed 25 Palestinians, including four under the age of 18, in the West Bank since May 10, according to officials there. Israel says five attempted to attack Israeli forces.

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