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Jumat, 21 Mei 2021

Tensions boil over at al-Aqsa Mosque, hours after a ceasefire was signed between Israel and Hamas - ABC News

Israeli police fired stun grenades towards Palestinians who threw rocks and petrol bombs at officers outside Jerusalem's flashpoint al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday, hours after Israel and Hamas reached a ceasefire in Gaza.

Police raids of the compound and clashes with Palestinians during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan helped touch off violence between Israel and Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas, who after 11 days of fighting agreed to a truce early Friday.

At noon, thousands of Palestinians gathered in the tree-lined compound surrounding the mosque for Friday prayers. Many stayed on to demonstrate in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, cheering and waving Palestinian flags.

An Israeli police spokesman said that some of the Palestinians gathered threw stones and petrol bombs towards officers who had been stationed along the compound's gates. The officers responded by dispersing them, the spokesman said.

A Reuters photographer said police fired stun grenades towards the Palestinians. It was not immediately clear what set off the clashes.

Palestinians wave national flags in front of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem
Palestinians rallied in Jerusalem in support of people in Gaza.(

AP: Mahmoud Illean

)

The confrontations died down within about an hour, with Israeli police retreating to their positions at the compound's gates. Medics said 20 Palestinians were wounded, with two transferred to hospital for treatment.

The compound, which sits atop the Old City plateau known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif, or The Noble Sanctuary, and to Jews as Temple Mount, is the most sensitive site in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In Gaza, five more bodies were pulled from the rubble in the densely populated Palestinian enclave.

Palestinians run from sound bombs thrown by Israeli police
It is not clear what triggered the clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police.(

AP: Mahmoud Illean

)

The Gaza Health Ministry said that had taken the death toll to 243, including 66 children, with more than 1,900 wounded. 

The Israeli military said a soldier had been killed as well as 12 civilians; hundreds have been treated for injuries after rocket salvoes that caused panic and sent people rushing into shelters as far away as Tel Aviv.

Scenes of jubilation in Gaza

Palestinians who had huddled in fear of Israeli shelling poured into Gaza's streets, embracing one another in celebration in front of bombed-out buildings. Mosque loudspeakers feted "the victory of the resistance".

Cars drove around flying Palestinian flags and honking horns.

In the countdown to the 2:00am (local time) ceasefire, Palestinian rocket salvoes continued and Israel carried out at least one air strike.

Palestinians dance in Gaza City
Palestinians took to the streets in Gaza after the ceasefire came into effect.(

AP: Adel Hana

)

Egypt said it would send two delegations to monitor the truce as the warring parties said they were ready to retaliate for any violations.

Civilians on both sides of the front line were sceptical.

"I don't agree to (a truce). What is truce? What does it mean?" said Samira Abdallah Naseer, a mother of 11 children sitting near the wreckage of a building near Beit Hanoun in the north of the Gaza Strip.

"We returned to our houses, and we found no place to sit, no water, no electricity, no mattresses, nothing," she said.

In a cafe in the Israeli port city of Ashdod, north of Gaza, student Dan Kiri, 25, said Israel should continue targeting Hamas until it collapsed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the operation had hit the ability of Hamas, the Islamist group which runs Gaza, to launch missiles at Israel.

'Hamas can't hide anymore'

Mr Netanyahu said the Israeli military had attacked and destroyed Hamas' extensive tunnel network in Gaza, its rocket factories, weapons laboratories and storage facilities, and killed more than 200 militants, including 25 senior figures.

"Hamas can't hide anymore. That's a great achievement for Israel," he said in a televised address.

"We eliminated an important part of Hamas's and Islamic Jihad's command echelon. And whoever was not killed, knows today that our long arm can reach him anywhere, above ground or underground."

Palestinians on horse carte pass by destroyed homes in Gaza
Israel said it has killed over 200 militants in Gaza and destroyed weapons factories.(

AP: Khalil Hamra)

)

However, Hamas cast the fighting as successful resistance to a militarily and economically stronger foe.

"It is true the battle ends today but 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," said Ezzat El-Reshiq, a senior member of the Hamas political bureau.

El-Reshiq said that the movement's demands included protecting al-Aqsa and stopping Palestinians being evicted from their homes in East Jerusalem.

Amid growing global alarm, US President Joe Biden had urged Mr Netanyahu to seek de-escalation, while Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations sought to mediate.

The truce appeared to be part of a two-stage deal, with Cairo sending security delegations to Tel Aviv and the Palestinian territories to agree on measures to maintain stability.

After days of Israeli air strikes, Gaza officials said 16,800 homes were damaged and residents were getting three or four hours of power compared with 12 hours before the fighting.

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Palestinian officials put the cost of Gaza reconstruction in the tens of millions of dollars, while economists said the fighting could curb Israel's economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Biden said on Thursday aid would be sent quickly to Gaza. It would be coordinated with the Palestinian Authority — run by Hamas' rival, President Mahmoud Abbas, backed by the West and based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank — "in a manner that does not permit Hamas to simply restock its military arsenal".

Hamas is deemed a terrorist group in the West and by Israel, which it refuses to recognise.

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How did the Israel-Gaza conflict begin?

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2021-05-21 20:08:04Z
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