Thousands of people in the Gaza Strip and across the occupied Palestinian territory poured into the streets to celebrate a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian armed groups.
The ceasefire, which was welcomed internationally, was brokered by Egypt in the early hours of Friday after 11 days of relentless bombing of the besieged enclave and thousands of rockets launched into Israel by Hamas, the group ruling the Strip.
A statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said late on Thursday the security cabinet had “unanimously accepted the recommendations to accept an Egyptian initiative for an unconditional … ceasefire”.
Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad then confirmed the ceasefire in a statement, saying it would come into force at 2am on Friday (23:00 GMT on Thursday).
Israel’s bombardment of Gaza killed 232 Palestinians, including 65 children, and brought widespread devastation to the already impoverished territory. On the Israeli side, 12 people, including two children, were killed.
France welcomes truce
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian welcomed the ceasefire, and said France was determined to play a key role in trying to secure a political solution to the crisis.
Man arrested in India for Facebook appeal to hoist Palestine flag
Police in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh have arrested a Muslim man who had appealed on social media to hoist the Palestinian flag on homes and vehicles in a show of solidarity against the Israeli offensive on Gaza.
Azamgarh district’s senior superintendent of police Sudhir Kumar Singh told Al Jazeera that they have arrested the man, identified as Yasir Akhtar, after he posted a message on his Facebook page, calling residents in his Saraimeer village to display the flag after the congregational prayers on Friday.
‘Peace became a dream’
Leila Barhoum, an humanitarian worker and human rights advocate based in Gaza, said Palestinians are used to ceasefires.
“It’s really disappointing that only after 11 days the international community put out some efforts for the ceasefire to take place,” she said.
World leaders’ messages welcoming the truce are always the same, Barhoum argued, while a “strong effort” for a long lasting peace was never put in place.
“I try to remember a year when we had a good life, and I can’t trace one to go back to,” she said. “So peace became a dream, even a theory, that we try to achieve,” she concluded.
Mideast ceasefire ‘good’ but conflict causes must be addressed: Germany
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas joined a chorus of leaders welcoming the ceasefire.
“Good that there is now a ceasefire,” Maas tweeted, a day after he visited Israel and the city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank for talks. “Now we have to deal with the causes, rebuild trust and find a solution to the Middle East conflict,” he said.