Israel-Hamas Cease-Fire Holds as Aid Trickles Into Gaza Strip

The Israel-Hamas war ended with a cease-fire this morning when Israel and Hamas agreed to a 12 hour truce to allow food to reach the Gaza Strip.

Weeks into a fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, after weeks of near-continuous violence, Israeli and Palestinian officials announced a surprise development: a cease-fire deal has been reached between Israel and Hamas. The agreement calls for the ceasing of all hostilities, and the opening of Gaza’s borders to the passage of humanitarian assistance.

The latest in the Gaza Strip: Negotiated cease fire holds between Israel and Hamas. Israel starts allowing the transfer of aid by sea to Gaza. The U.S. has sent more than $600 million in humanitarian aid to Gaza since the June 12 cease fire.

A cease-fire between Israel and militant group Hamas was holding for a second day on Saturday, as more residents in Gaza emerged from their homes to survey the damage caused by Israeli airstrikes and foreign aid began trickling into the isolated strip of land.

On Al-Wahda Street, where Israeli bombing caused the deaths of more than 40 Palestinians on May 16, every third building was leveled or damaged. The barrages from both sides were the worst since the most recent of three wars between Israel and Hamas in 2014.

“Thank god we are still alive; I was totally afraid about my business,” said Hamdi Nabhan, 28, who opened his sweet shop, Carmela, days before the conflict began. He said he saved $20,000 over three years to open the bubblegum-pink-and-white store a few blocks from Al-Wahda Street. Its freshly painted white walls were cracked slightly from the impact of bombs.

“There were some rumors the building next to us was going to be destroyed,” he said.

In total, thousands of buildings were damaged across the Gaza Strip, displacing at least 65,000 Palestinians to shelters, according to the United Nations and Palestinian authorities.

Palestinians collecting food aid on Saturday in Gaza City.


John Minchillo/Associated Press

U.N. humanitarian coordinator Lynn Hastings, in blue, visited Gaza City on Saturday.


nidal al-mughrabi/Reuters

The 11-day conflict claimed the lives of 242 people in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas rules, according to the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

In Israel, 12 people, including one soldier, were killed, as Hamas fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israeli towns and cities, according to Israeli officials.

The cessation of hostilities offers a critical window to deliver aid to the densely populated enclave, where overwhelmed hospitals have been tending to injured Palestinians while dealing with shortages of electricity and medical supplies.

A spokesman for Israel’s civilian military arm said international aid agencies sent medicines, medical equipment and animal feed, among other aid, via Israel over six hours on Friday. Online videos also showed a line of dozens of aid trucks waiting to enter Gaza from Egypt.

Egypt positioned itself as a supporter of the Palestinians during the conflict, opening its border to treat wounded Palestinians in Egyptian hospitals and dispatching a fleet of ambulances to Gaza. Egypt’s president,

Abdel Fattah Al Sisi,

also allocated $500 million in aid for Gaza.

Hamas militants ride through the streets of Gaza City on Saturday.


Ahmed Deeb for The Wall Street Journal

Egyptian mediators were in Gaza City late Friday for discussions with Hamas about a longer-term cease-fire. They met Saturday with President

Mahmoud Abbas,

a rival to Hamas who leads the Palestinian Authority that governs the West Bank from Ramallah.

In the early evening, about 200 people including dozens of masked Hamas militants carrying automatic weapons paraded down a main thoroughfare in Gaza’s Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, passing the mourning tent of Bassem Issa, a Hamas military commander who was killed in the fighting.

Hamas’s leader in Gaza,

Yahya Sinwar,

also briefly visited the mourning tent, emerging in public for the first time since the conflict began, according to videos on social media. The Israeli military had vowed to kill the official and last week bombed his home in the Gaza Strip.

Yahya Sinwar, leader of the Palestinian Hamas movement, wearing blue, shook hands with a supporter in Gaza City on Saturday.


hatem rawagh/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State

Antony Blinken

is expected to travel to meet with Middle Eastern foreign ministers and Israeli and Palestinian officials in the coming days to discuss recovery efforts in the strip and longer-term solutions to improve the lives of Israelis and Palestinians.

President Biden on Thursday said the U.S. was ready to work with the U.N. to provide “rapid humanitarian assistance and to marshal international support for the people of Gaza.”

The U.N. has called on the international community to provide a reconstruction package for the Palestinians. The U.N.’s Central Emergency Response Fund, which provides cash for humanitarian crises, said it has released $22.5 million for aid efforts in Gaza.

The U.N. Security Council in a statement Saturday called on “full adherence to the ceasefire” and said it mourned the loss of civilian lives. It reiterated its support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The full responsibility for this escalation lies with the Hamas terrorist organization, which chose to initiate rocket fire at Israel’s capital of Jerusalem, the areas surrounding the Gaza Strip and other cities in Israel,” the Israeli foreign ministry said in response. “It is very unfortunate to see that the Security Council has ignored the launching of over 4,000 rockets at Israeli civilians.”

The cease-fire that underpins the foreign-aid effort faced an early test Friday when Israeli police clashed with Palestinians at a Jerusalem mosque.

Palestinians reacted to stun grenades used by Israeli security forces on Friday to disperse crowds at the grounds of the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.


ammar awad/Reuters

Israeli police tossed stun grenades near crowds of Palestinians who had gathered for prayers at the grounds of the mosque, known as Al Aqsa, according to videos posted on social media. Israeli police said riots had broken out and hundreds of people threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at police officers, who responded with crowd-dispersal methods that calmed the situation within an hour.

Demonstrations at the mosque, and in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, where dozens of Arab residents face a looming court decision on whether they will be replaced in their homes by Israelis, helped ignite the broader conflict with Hamas.

Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem after a May 10 deadline, imposed by the militant group, for Israel to remove forces from Sheikh Jarrah passed. Israel responded with a military campaign targeting the group’s leaders and infrastructure.

Israel security forces pushed away activists near the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem during a protest by Palestinians on Friday.


ahmad gharabli/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Israeli police said it used nonlethal weapons to disperse a Palestinian protest against the potential evictions Saturday evening in Sheikh Jarrah, with no injuries. The official Palestinian Authority website Wafa reported the Israeli police assaulted some of the protesters, though it didn’t report any specific injuries.

Israel’s highest court on May 9 said it would set a new date within a month for a final hearing, indicating that tensions are likely to remain high. Many Palestinians feel emboldened by the recent hostilities to push for a longer-term solution to both Israel’s blockade of Gaza and their decades-old conflict with Israelis.

Palestinians gathered on the beach in Gaza City on Friday after a cease-fire ended 11 days of hostilities and Israeli airstrikes.


mahmud hams/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

In Tel Aviv, more than a thousand Israelis attended a rally in support of Jewish-Arab coexistence and the cease-fire in Gaza, according to nongovernmental organizations involved.

The Israeli-Palestinian Crisis

Write to Rory Jones at [email protected] and Felicia Schwartz at [email protected]

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