Truce holds between Israel, Gaza as exchange of fire stops
Jerusalem, May 14 (EFE).- A truce agreed upon by Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza on Saturday night continued to hold overnight, with the Gaza-based militant group having stopped firing rockets towards Israel and the latter stopping strikes and bombings in the Gaza strip.
As peace was restored, on Sunday morning Israel lifted restrictions on people’s movement in areas close to the Palestinian enclave.
After five-days of intense hostilities in which 33 Palestinians were killed in Gaza and two people died in Israel, PIJ and Israel agreed to an Egypt-brokered truce which came into effect at 10 pm on Saturday, although some more rockets were fired towards Israeli territory afterwards and elicited retaliatory bombings in the Palestinian territory, raising doubts over whether the ceasefire would last.
However, after the last attack on Gaza by the Israeli military around midnight, the situation seems to have calmed down, with no incidents or exchanges of fire being reported for several hours.
This resulted in the Israeli military lifting restrictions on movement and gatherings for residents living more than 40 kilometers away from Gaza, while highways close to the line of separation have also been opened, after having been shut due to fears of coming under fire by anti-tank missiles.
If the calm persists, the measures will be applied to Israeli communities closer to the enclave from noon.
Meanwhile the COGAT – an Israeli military body that manages civilian affairs in Palestinian territory – announced Sunday morning that it will gradually open Gaza’s Erez crossing for people and the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing, which have remained shut during the military escalation.
The Gaza strip’s maritime space will also be opened, according to the COGAT statement.
The sole power generator of the strip, home to around 2.5 million people, is about to run out of fuel, while the hospitals are also running out of supplies.
The Palestinian territory has suffered widespread damage to its infrastructure, with around 100 buildings – many of them residential – being destroyed, while the only major hospital being heavily damaged.
The reopening of border crossings could be crucial as it would allow humanitarian aid to reach the enclave.
Since May 9, the Israel Defense Forces claim to have struck 371 PIJ targets in Gaza, including fighters’ homes and military facilities.
Over the same period, according to the IDF, the PIJ launched 1,234 rockets and mortar shells in the direction of Israel, most of which were either intercepted or fell in unpopulated areas.
A total of 33 Palestinians from the enclave – including 18 PIJ members and at least 15 civilians including 7 children – were killed by the Israeli barrage, according to the Gaza health ministry.
The Israeli side witnessed two deaths: an elderly woman died on Thursday when a rocket struck her building in Rehovot, while a Gazan possessing a work permit in Israel was killed overnight by the impact of a shrapnel while grazing cattle near the enclave. EFE