A Qatar and Egypt brokered ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has come into effect after days of deadly violence.
After nearly two weeks of heavy bombardment that killed hundreds in the besieged Gaza Strip, Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire on Thursday night.
The truce agreement, brokered due to efforts by Qatar and Egypt, has been praised by leaders around the world for ending days of brutal violence.
“I commend Egypt and Qatar for the efforts carried out, in close coordination with the UN, to help restore calm to Gaza and Israel”, said Secretary-General António Guterres in a statement to reporters at United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York, calling on all sides to observe the ceasefire.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland also thanked Qatar for its efforts in bringing the situation in Gaza to a much needed calm.
“I welcome the ceasefire between #Gaza & #Israel. I extend my deepest condolences to the victims of the violence & their loved ones. I commend #Egypt & #Qatar for the efforts carried out, in close contact w/ the @UN, to help restore calm. The work of building #Palestine can start,” he tweeted.
I welcome the ceasefire between #Gaza & #Israel. I extend my deepest condolences to the victims of the violence & their loved ones. I commend #Egypt & #Qatar for the efforts carried out, in close contact w/ the @UN, to help restore calm. The work of building #Palestine can start.
— Tor Wennesland (@TWennesland) May 20, 2021
In a statement, the European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc “welcomes the announced ceasefire bringing to an end the violence in and around Gaza. We commend Egypt, Qatar, United Nations, United States and others who have played a facilitating role in this.”
Prior to the ceasefire announcement, the US blocked three UN resolutions that condemned Israel’s disproportionate military response in the besieged strip.
Citizens of Gaza took to the streets to celebrate the ceasefire agreement on Thursday night.
Since May 10, Israeli air raids have destroyed fifty schools in Gaza according to Save the Children. The Qatar Red Crescent Society Office was also destroyed as was the Al Jalaa building which housed Qatar-based Al Jazeera offices, the Associated Press offices and residential units.
The Sheikh Hamad Hospital for Rehabilitation and Artificial Limbs, Gaza’s only prosthetic and disability rehab centre, also saw significant damage after targeted attacks by Israel on the Gaza Strip. Gaza’s biggest library was also destroyed.
The indiscriminate bombardment also caused destruction to the Strip’s main Covid-19 testing centre, as well as at least 15 other hospitals and health clinics.
Around 90,000 Palestinians have now been internally displaced after 11 days of violent attacks on the besieged enclave. According to the Palestinian health ministry, which was also partially damaged, 232 Palestinians including 64 children were killed in the violence.