Israel and Gaza return to normal: ceasefire holds

ZAt least some normality was quickly restored on Monday. The Erez border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, which had been hit by shelling the night before, opened in the morning, albeit only for humanitarian transport. The 12,000 Palestinians with work permits for Israel were not yet allowed to cross the border again; from Israel it was said that this would be the case on Tuesday at the earliest. Food and medicine did make it into Gaza — as well as fuel, allowing the coast’s only electric power plant to resume work after shutting down on Saturday. The Israeli army dropped all restrictions on areas in the south of the country at noon. The called-up reservists were sent home.

Christian Meier

Political correspondent for the Middle East and Northeast Africa.

On both sides, people inspected the damage caused by the attacks. Gazans also counted the dead and injured. The Hamas said 45 people were killed and 360 injured between Friday afternoon and Sunday evening. 15 of the dead are said to have belonged to militant groups, and 15 others are said to have been children. The Israeli army gave different figures: A spokesman said an estimated 35 people were killed in the Gaza Strip as a result of the Israeli attacks. Eleven of them were civilians.

It was the deadliest escalation in the Gaza Strip in more than a year. It was also the shortest armed conflict since Hamas took sole control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. It lasted almost two and a half days, then at 11:30 p.m. local time on Sunday evening, the mediated by Egypt truce and lasted, with a few exceptions, also on Monday. In Israel, this was viewed as a success by the vast majority of commentators. With the surprise attack on Friday, the army made short work of the PIJ, the “Movement of Islamic Jihad in Palestine”. The army’s airstrikes killed and otherwise severely damaged several senior leaders of the militant organization—all without casualties. According to the army, the Iron Dome missile defense system was more effective than ever against the more than 1,000 missiles fired by the PIJ.

Hamas did not participate

After several strikes in the Gaza Strip killed several people, including children, the Israeli army quickly released material to show that the hits were the result of failed PIJ rocket launches and not Israeli shelling. Some observers drew a comparison with the multi-day armed conflict between Israel and the PIJ in autumn 2019 and pointed out the most important similarity: Hamas did not intervene in the conflict then as now. “I think that’s one of the things that the Israel Defense Forces consider a success,” Sagi Baruch, commander of the southern home front district, said on Kan radio station Monday. Unnamed high-ranking government officials were quoted in the media as saying that Hamas was certain that it would remain silent. It is the strongest military force in the Gaza Strip, ahead of the PIJ with its approximately 6,000 fighters.

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