After the Israeli-Hamas cease-fire went into effect at 2 a.m. Friday morning, local time, Palestinians celebrated in the streets of Gaza City and Hamas declared victory. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office boasted of “significant achievements” in its 11-day battle against Hamas, “some of which are unprecedented.” Tempering those claims of wins were heavy losses of life, property, and infrastructure.
At least 230 Palestinians were killed in 11 days of Israeli airstrikes, including 65 children and 39 women, and 1,710 more were wounded, The Associated Press reports, citing the Gaza Health Ministry. Twelve people were killed in Israel, including two children, as Hamas, committed to Israel’s destruction, attempted to get more than 4,000 rockets past its Iron Dome missile defense system.
“Like the three previous wars between the bitter enemies, the latest round of fighting ended inconclusively,” AP reports. “Israel claimed to inflict heavy damage on Hamas but once again was unable to halt the Islamic militant group’s nonstop rocket barrages,” and almost immediately, “Netanyahu faced angry accusations from his hard-line, right-wing base that he stopped the operation too soon.” And Hamas, despite its taunts about Israel losing the fight, suffered significant losses and “now faces the daunting challenge of rebuilding in a territory already suffering from poverty, widespread unemployment, and a raging coronavirus outbreak,” AP says.
Israeli airstrikes damaged at least 18 hospitals and clinics and destroyed one health care facility, the World Health Organization says, and Save the Children reports that Israeli bombs damaged more than 50 schools, disrupting education for 42,000 students. About 58,000 Palestinians fled their homes during the conflict, and Gaza, already limping after 14 years of blockade by Egypt and Israel, is running low on water, electricity, and medicine.
It could have been worse. More than 2,200 Palestinians and 70 Israelis were killed in 50 days of fighting in 2014, while at least 160 Palestinians and six Israelis died in an eight-day fight in 2012, Politico reports. The Biden administration, drawing lessons from those two battles, decided a quiet and mostly behind-the-scenes effort to help Egypt broker a truce would be the most effective way to keep the fighting short, closer to 2012 than 2014. “No one expects the truce to last forever,” Politico says, “but it’s a start.” Peter Weber