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Ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian armed groups




The "Iron Dome" could not intercept all the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip (photo: B'TSELEM)
The "Iron Dome" could not intercept all the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip (photo: B'TSELEM)
ISRAEL / PALESTINE. Since Friday 21 May 2021 at 2am local time (midnight GMT), Israel and the two Palestinian armed groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have been observing a ceasefire approved without preconditions. The halt to firing between Israel and the Palestinian territories was made possible by mediation from Egypt. More than 4,000 rockets and mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip against Israeli towns (most of them intercepted by the "Iron Dome" anti-missile system) and Israeli army air and artillery bombardments hit the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Cairo will monitor the implementation of the truce by sending two delegations to Tel Aviv and the Palestinian territories. "The Palestinian resistance will respect this agreement as long as the occupation respects it," the Hamas political bureau said in a statement.

Triggered by the expulsion of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood for the benefit of Jewish settlers, these clashes during eleven days have resulted in more than 230 deaths (including 65 children and 39 women) and 1,710 wounded in Gaza, plus 29 deaths and 7,000 wounded in the West Bank, on the Palestinian side, and 12 victims and hundreds of wounded on the Israeli side, according to the authorities of the two respective parties. Not to mention the 58,000 displaced persons. A battle without a winner.

Re-establishing a political horizon

In a statement issued on Friday 21 May 2021, Josep Borrel welcomed the ceasefire "putting an end to the violence in and around Gaza", while expressing his "dismay" and regretting "the loss of human life. The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy further commends "Egypt, Qatar, the United Nations, the United States and other countries that have played a facilitating role in this regard." It reiterates the EU's view that "only a political solution will bring lasting peace and an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once and for all. It is now of utmost importance to re-establish a political horizon towards a two-state solution. The EU stands ready to fully support the Israeli and Palestinian authorities in these efforts.

Joe Biden, whose country had opposed the various resolutions presented to the UN Security Council, sees in this truce "a real opportunity" to move forward towards the countries. The American president said he was "convinced that Palestinians and Israelis deserve to live in security and enjoy the same level of freedom, prosperity and democracy. Joe Biden is expected to travel to the Middle East soon to "meet with the Israeli foreign minister and other Israeli, Palestinian and regional officials" to "work together to build a better future for Israelis and Palestinians."

Calling on "the parties to respect the agreement," UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says "Israeli and Palestinian leaders have a responsibility to ensure calm, in order to restart a serious dialogue." He urges them to "return to negotiations with regional and international actors."

Eric Apim


Friday, May 21st 2021



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