A ceasefire agreement between Israel and the radical Palestinian Islamic Jihad group entered into force on Sunday evening after days of violent Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip and Islamic Jihad rocket firing at Israeli countries on the border .
The agreement was negotiated with the mediation of Egypt and has so far been respected by both sides. According to commentators, in the next few days it could evolve into a truce: the Israeli government has let the newspapers know that it has completed the objectives of its military operation. At least 44 Palestinians have been killed since Friday: according to Israel, at least 25 of them were Islamic Jihad militiamen.
Israel’s operation against the Islamic Jihad group – called Breaking Down – began on Friday. Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid had spoken of a “precise counter-terrorist operation against immediate danger”, referring to the possibility that Islamic Jihad was organizing attacks against Israel in retaliation for the arrest of the group’s leader in the West Bank, Bassem Saadi, which took place at start of last week amid huge protests and threats of imminent attacks.
Islamic Jihad is a military and political group that operates mainly in the Gaza Strip and describes itself as even more radical than Hamas, the Palestinian group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007. In the past, Israel had already conducted operations against militia leaders of the Islamic Jihad, but the one carried out in recent days remains the most extensive. Among the people killed by the Israeli bombing there are also the heads of the military wing of Islamic Jihad in the south and north of the Strip, and the commander of the unit who is in charge of countering Israeli land vehicles.
In a meeting held Sunday afternoon with the Israeli authorities of the towns on the border with the Gaza Strip, Lapid said that the military operation has been completed and that the government intends to conclude it, writes the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
“Israel feared that the continuation of the operation and an increasing number of deaths could push Hamas to intervene, but this has not happened so far: Hamas has remained on the sidelines,” noted al Jazeera journalist Natasha Ghoneim. In the last year and a half, after the two-week war fought in May 2021, relations between Hamas and the Israeli government had gradually improved, mainly thanks to the fact that the right-wing government led by Benjamin Netanyahu had been replaced by a government coalition, still in office.
In recent days, Hamas has probably preferred to maintain the relations built in recent months with the Israeli government rather than join the Islamic Jihad in a military response that had little hope of being truly effective. Of the roughly 1,000 rockets launched by the Strip against Israel, a large portion was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile system.
According to some commentators, Hamas did not have much choice. During the military operation, Israel suspended the shipment of fuel to the Gaza Strip, whose authorities had been forced to reduce the supply of electricity to a few hours a day. “There are no fans or air conditioners, the temperature has reached 32 degrees with a humidity of 75 percent: children are the ones who have the most problems falling asleep,” wrote Muhammad Shehada, a Palestinian journalist and activist, on Sunday evening.
As the ceasefire goes into effect, most Gazans are back to pitch black darkness & suffocating heat.
Electricity’s down since yesterday b/c Israel cut all #Gaza‘s fuel supplies. No fans, ventilation or AC at 32°C & 75% humidity.
Children struggle the most to fall asleep… pic.twitter.com/0goQbiIR8K
— Muhammad Shehada (@muhammadshehad2) August 7, 2022
After the news of the ceasefire, Hamas announced that government offices and universities in the Strip would soon reopen, and that local officials would begin removing debris caused by the bombing.
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