Gaza: A truce between Israel and Hamas began on Friday (May 21, 2021) at the hour set by Egyptian mediators, and U.S. President Joe Biden pledged to salve the devastated Gaza Strip with humanitarian aid after the worst fighting in years.
President Joe Biden on Thursday (May 20, 2021) pledged humanitarian and reconstruction aid for Gaza as the US President hailed a deal to end 11 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas. The US President was also criticized by fellow Democrats in the state for not speaking out more forcefully against Israeli actions.
Joe Biden addressed the media at the White House shortly after the news of the ceasefire agreement came out. US President while promising to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, said, “We remain committed to work with the United Nations and other international stakeholders to provide rapid humanitarian assistance and to marshal international support for the people in Gaza and in the Gaza reconstruction efforts.”
US President also added that this reconstruction aid for Gaza would not be provided in partnership with Hamas, which the United States labels a terrorist organization, but with the Palestinian Authority.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said he “welcomes the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas” adding that “after 11 days of deadly hostilities. I extend my deepest condolences to the victims of the violence and their loved ones.”
Additionally, President Biden also defended his remarks and approach in handling the crisis after many Democratic lawmakers in the country urged him to adjust his stance defending Israel’s right to self-defense.
The US President revealed that he made over six phone calls to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, followed by conversations with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas on the issue.
“I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy,” Biden said.
“My administration will continue our quiet, relentless diplomacy toward that end. I believe we have a genuine opportunity to make progress and I am committed to working for it,” he said.
Palestinians, many of whom had spent 11 days huddled in fear of Israeli shelling, poured into Gaza’s streets. Mosque loud-speakers feted “the victory of the resistance achieved over the Occupation (Israel) during the ‘Sword of Jerusalem’ battle.”
In the countdown to the 2 a.m. (2300 GMT Thursday) cease-fire, whose timing Hamas had publicly confirmed but Israel had not, Palestinian rocket salvoes continued and Israel carried out at least one air strike. Each side said it stood ready to retaliate for any truce violations by the other.
Meanwhile, Gaza health officials confirmed that over 232 Palestinians, including 65 children, had been killed, while more than 1,900 people have been wounded in airstrikes. On the other hand, Israel’s officials revealed that it had killed at least 160 combatants.
Authorities put the death toll in Israel at 12, with hundreds of people treated for injuries in rocket attacks that caused panic and sent people rushing into shelters.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “Israeli and Palestinian leaders had a responsibility beyond the restoration of calm to address the root causes of the conflict,” he told reporters with serious dialogue.
“Gaza is an integral part of the future Palestinian state and no effort should be spared to bring about real national reconciliation that ends the division,” he said.
(With inputs from Reuters)
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