Uneasy truce holds in Gaza after weekend of violence

Uneasy truce holds in Gaza after weekend of violence
Almost 50 Palestinians are thought to have died over three days of Israeli airstrikes

A fragile ceasefire between Israel and a militant group in Gaza appears to be holding, following the deaths of dozens of Palestinians in Israeli airstrikes last week.

Israel ordered pre-emptive strikes on the Palestinian enclave on Friday, alleging that Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an organisation backed by Iran, was planning an attack.

The PIJ responded by firing hundreds of rockets towards Israel, most of which were blocked by the Iron Dome air defence system.

Hamas, the strongest group in Gaza, did not retaliate against Israel, but gave verbal support to its smaller ally.

In three days of bombing, 44 Palestinians were killed and a further 311 people were injured, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Four women and 15 children were said to be among the dead.

Islamic Jihad said 12 of its fighters were killed, while Israel confirmed that two of Islamic Jihad’s senior commanders died in its strikes.

The fighting was the most serious flare-up since the 11-day war in May 2021, which killed 250 Gazans and destroyed hundreds of homes.

The US welcomed the most recent Egyptian-brokered truce, which began on Sunday evening.

“Over these last 72-hours, the United States has worked with officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, and others throughout the region to encourage a swift resolution to the conflict,” US president Joe Biden said.

Both Israel and Islamic Jihad claimed to have met their objectives, with the militant group’s leader Ziad al-Nakhala declaring “victory” and the Israeli army saying it had successfully weakened its opponent.

<p>The Najm family mourns the loss of four teenagers in Jabalia, northern Gaza Strip</p>

The Najm family mourns the loss of four teenagers in Jabalia, northern Gaza Strip

“There’s no doubt Islamic Jihad was dealt a serious blow from which it will take time to recover,” an Israeli military official said.

“We did not annihilate Islamic Jihad nor was that our goal,” they added.

The 2.3 million people who live in the narrow coastal strip continue to live under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade.

Reflecting on the latest round of fighting, Jihad Meqdad, a 44-year-old Palestinian fisherman, told Reuters: “War, war, every two years. This is not human, there is no morality in this.”