Israel and Hamas claim victory as fragile ceasefire takes hold

🔴 LIVE UPDATES: UN urges calm after Israeli police storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound after Friday prayers.

A ceasefire agreement reached between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip appeared to be holding on Friday, but there have been tensions in occupied East Jerusalem where Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and fired tear gas at Palestinians after Friday prayers.

The Egyptian-brokered ceasefire came into effect in the early hours of Friday after 11 days of relentless Israeli bombing of the besieged enclave and thousands of rockets launched into Israel by Hamas, the group ruling the Strip.

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Thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank poured onto the streets to celebrate the ceasefire, waving flags and flashing the “V” sign for victory.

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza killed at least 257 Palestinians, including 66 children, and brought widespread devastation to the already impoverished territory. On the Israeli side, 12 people, including two children, were killed.

Here are the latest updates:


China to provide humanitarian assistance to help Gaza recovery

China will send assistance to help treat the injured and find new accommodation for those left homeless as a result of the Israeli air attacks on Gaza, state media reported, citing Tian Lin, a spokesperson for the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA).


21 May 2021 – 04:51 GMT

Pakistan welcomes ceasefire, plans ‘day of solidarity’ with Palestinians

Pakistan has welcomed the announcement of the Gaza ceasefire and a series of demonstrations are planned across the country to mark a day of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi welcomed the ceasefire, describing it as “the power of collective, unified action; this is the effort of every person and every nation, together for a just cause”.

Rallies will be held in main cities, including Islamabad, the capital, Karachi and Lahore.

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21 May 2021 – 04:40 GMT

Scepticism in Israel in face of government claims that attacks set Hamas back

There is scepticism in Israel about the bombardment of Gaza and the ceasefire despite claims from the country’s defence minister that the attacks had set Hamas back, according to Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett who is in West Jerusalem.

“There’s a lot of concern and questioning about where this has got anybody – apart from more destruction and more death,” Fawcett said, noting: “There’s a sense that this has all been said before.”


21 May 2021 – 04:35 GMT

Hamas maintains ‘hands on trigger’ after ceasefire: Official

A Hamas official has told the Reuters news agency that Israel must end its violations in Jerusalem and address damages from the bombardment of Gaza following the ceasefire, warning the group still has its “hands on the trigger”.

“It is true the battle ends today but (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and the whole world should know that our hands are on the trigger and we will continue to grow the capabilities of this resistance,” Ezzat El-Reshiq, a member of the Hamas political bureau, told the news agency.

He told the Reuters news agency in Doha that the movement’s demands also include protecting Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and ending the eviction of several Palestinians from their home in occupied East Jerusalem which Reshiq described as “a red line”.

“What comes after the battle of ‘Sword of Jerusalem’ is not like what came before because the Palestinian people backed the resistance and know that the resistance is what will liberate their land and protect their holy sites,” Reshiq said.


Correspondent: US support for Israel a ‘challenge’ for Biden

Al Jazeera’s White House Correspondent Kimberly Halkett said on Friday that while President Joe Biden reaffirmed his support of Israel, that position is likely to raise further challenges.

“The challenge for Joe Biden is that many in his party see US support for Israel and not also for the Palestinians in equal measure to be somewhat … hypocritical and not in line with the sort of social justice” focus“this administration promised.

“So, as a result, the challenges to this White House are growing by the day”. 


Biden says ‘no shift’ in commitment to Israel

US President Joe Biden said during a joint news conference at the White House with South Korean President Moon Jae-in: “There is no shift in my commitment, commitment to the security of Israel. Period. No shift, not at all.”

However, “we still need a two-state solution”, Biden said, callling it “the only answer.”

Biden said Democrats still support Israel, even though high-profile progressives like Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, whose family is from the occupied West Bank, have been critical of Israel.

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He acknowledged Gaza needs help and said he is prepared “to attempt to put together a major package with other nations who share our view to rebuild the homes” destroyed in Gaza without “providing Hamas the opportunity to rebuild their weapon system”.


US top diplomat speaks with Palestinian leader

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on the phone on Friday with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and discussed measures to ensure the ceasefire that came into effect between Palestinians and Israelis holds, the State Department said Friday.

Blinken told Abbas the US was committed to working with the PA and the United Nations to provide rapid humanitarian assistance and mobilise international support for the reconstruction of Gaza, the State Department said in a statement.

Blinken and Abbas said they were committed to keeping lines of communication open.


(20:41 GMT)

Sudan welcomes ceasefire

Sudan has welcomed the declaration of a ceasefire, its foreign ministry has said, adding that it appreciated the Egyptian, regional and international efforts to reach this agreement.

In a statement, the ministry called on the international community, “and the American administration in particular”, to prevent any recurrence of what it said were deliberate violations and attacks on the rights of the Palestinian people.


(20:30 GMT)

Immediate need for food, health, psychosocial support: UNRWA

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has called for food, health and psychosocial support for Palestinians sheltering at UNRWA schools in Gaza. There are 65,000 displaced people in emergency UNRWA shelters.

“The ongoing 14-year long blockade of Gaza causes for the continued lack of medicine and aid, while physical distancing to prevent COVID-19 transmission remains almost impossible amid the ongoing internal displacement caused by the latest airstrikes,” it said in a statement.

“Concerns have continued to mount over the deteriorating situation for Gaza residents, where power is only available for six to eight hours per day. This has disrupted the provision of healthcare and other basic services, including water, hygiene, and sanitation,” it said.


(19:59 GMT)

Saudi king condemns Israeli ‘aggression’

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has condemned what he called Israeli aggression in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip during a phone call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

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King Salman also said the kingdom will keep reaching out to all parties to put pressure on Israel’s “occupation government”.

Saudi Arabia earlier welcomed the declaration of a ceasefire and said it appreciates Egyptian and international mediation efforts, state news agency (SPA) said, citing a Foreign Ministry statement.
The statement reaffirmed the kingdom’s continuation of efforts with allies to reach a resolution.


Families in Gaza relieved following ceasefire

Malak Mattar, an artist in Gaza city says that after the ceasefire there is a sense of relief for her and her family.

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“We are feeling relieved. We are finally able to get long hours of sleep which is something that we’ve been deprived of for the past 10 or 11 days, so it’s such a good thing that we are feeling safe, that there are no bombardments,” Mattar said.

“We are able now to get food supplies … so, we are feeling relieved.”


Fundamental political issues need to be addressed: UN

James Bays, Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor, reporting from West Jerusalem says that the resolution calling for a ceasefire has now been rewritten with the focus on humanitarian access, and getting all humanitarian aid into Gaza.

The spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also said in New York at the UN headquarters that “fundamental political issues have to be addressed,” Bays said.

“The UN believes that is time now to look at the fundamental problems, and at the peace process.

“The big question is whether the US also shares that view because the Biden administration has been in office now for four months, and this – until the conflict erupted – was not one of the priorities. They were looking at Afghanistan, climate change, the Iran nuclear deal, and this long-running conflict was right down their list of priorities,” Bays said.

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Israel FM says his country keen to maintain calm: Egyptian statement

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi has told his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry that Israel was keen to maintain calm, Egypt has said in a statement.

Shoukry and Ashkenazi also discussed measures to facilitate the rebuilding of Gaza in the coming stage, the statement said.


US has commitment from ‘relevant parties’ to ceasefire: White House

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki has said the United States has “strong assurances” from “relevant parties” that they are committed to a ceasefire.


1 hour ago (18:48 GMT)

Blinken calls Abbas to discuss truce

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has received a phone call from US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

Abbas’ office says the two discussed the latest developments. The Palestinian leader urged the Biden administration to pressure Israel to halt the violence in occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

The statement said Abbas appreciated US efforts to “provide humanitarian aid and mobilise the international support necessary for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, in coordination with the Palestinian Authority”.


Gaza media building owner complains to ICC: Lawyer

The owner of a Gaza building housing international media that was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike is lodging a complaint with the International Criminal Court, his lawyer has said.

The complaint by Jawad Mehdi says that the attack on May 15 which flattened al-Jala tower, housing the offices of US news agency Associated Press and Al Jazeera television, was a “war crime”.

The filing, a copy of which was seen by AFP, comes after the chief prosecutor of the ICC said last week that “crimes” may have been committed during the recent violence.

“The owner of this building, who is a Palestinian, has mandated his lawyers to file a war crime complaint with the International Criminal Court,” lawyer Gilles Devers said in a statement.

A combination picture shows a tower building housing AP, Al Jazeera offices as it collapses after Israeli missile strikes in Gaza city [File: Mohammed Salem/Reuters]


Political opponents questioning Netanyahu’s motives

In occupied East Jerusalem, Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid says political opponents are questioning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s motives to go to war.

“Some of them are saying that it was just because the prime minister … is politically in battle. He hasn’t been able to form any kind of coalition governments in four elections in less than two years, so he was trying to get some personal political gain through this war,” Abdel-Hamid said.

“Others say why did we [launch] this war since we didn’t finish it off. Some of the far-right groups would have preferred to see a ground invasion, would have preferred to see much more decisive action against Hamas.

“And then you have the military leadership … [who] are questioning what was the purpose of this military operation, and if Hamas was really weakened to the extent that is said.”


Correspondent: ‘Tensions are still very much there’

Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, said while the war in Gaza is over, tensions are still running high everywhere else.

“There is a ceasefire but that ceasefire really concerns only Gaza. All the rest of the issues between the two sides are very much there,” Abdel-Hamid said.

“Today people were also celebrating and they had a sigh of relief that the war in Gaza is over, but the tensions are still very much there.”


13 humanitarian trucks cross into Gaza

At the UN briefing in New York, Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said the truce has allowed much-needed humanitarian aide to reach Gaza following a partial reopening of the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom in Hebrew) crossing.

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“Today, 13 humanitarian trucks with food, COVID-19 vaccines, medical disposables and drugs, including emergency medicines, first aid kits for multiple UN agencies and NGO partners crossed into Gaza following the partial reopening of the Kerem Shalom crossing,” Dujarric said.


Iran leader urges Muslim states to back Palestinians militarily, financially

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei has called on Muslim states to support Palestinians militarily and financially and help rebuild Gaza, Iranian media has reported.

“Muslim states must sincerely support the Palestinian people, through military … or financial support … or in rebuilding Gaza’s infrastructure,” Khamenei said in a statement carried by media outlets.

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He urged Muslims to demand that their governments back Palestinians.

LIVE FEED by AlJazeera via Albert Rovic Tan, AdChoiceTV News Asia

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