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On Wednesday, an unofficial ceasefire brokered by Egypt took hold in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel after the worst outbreak of fighting between Israel and Hamas since 2014.
This came in response to Tuesday’s occurrences. Israeli warplanes hit more than 35 targets belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad after the Israeli army said Palestinian fighters were behind a “barrage of projectiles” fired from Gaza into Southern Israel. The rocket fire from the Gaza Strip was the biggest in years over an Israeli-imposed siege. Gaza has been under a devastating blockade by Israel for the last 12 years, severely restricting access to everyday essentials and materials needed by its people to maintain its infrastructure. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005. But after Hamas took control of the strip, Israel imposed a land and sea blockade on the coastal enclave.
The firing of rockets came as Islamic Jihad vowed to take revenge after a deadly attack against its members last week. The armed wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad said their “joint response with dozens of rockets at the occupation’s military positions … is a declaration that these crimes cannot be tolerated in any way.” Al-Qassam Brigades and al-Quds Brigades blamed Israel for its “aggression against our people,” which they claim is “an attempt to shift attention away from the crimes it carried out against our peaceful civilians.”
Since March 30, when protests began at Gaza and Israel’s border, at least 121 unarmed Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces. They are protesting for their right to return to the homes and lands their families were expelled from during the establishment of Israel. They are also fighting for an end to the Israeli-imposed blockade, which has now lead to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. “There is a lot of frustration here that after more than two months of protests and more than 100 people killed Palestinians here are no closer to ending Israel’s blockade of Gaza,” said Bernard Smith for Al Jazeera.
The latest tensions follow more killings of innocent Palestinians. A day ago, Israeli troops killed a Palestinian who allegedly approached Gaza’s border with Israel. Two days ago an Israeli tank killed three people in an attack on a military observation post belonging to Islamic Jihad fighters. “No country in the world would or should accept such threats to its civilian population. Neither do we,” Emmanuel Nahshon, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, wrote on Twitter.
“The Security Council should be outraged and respond to this latest bout of violence directed at innocent Israeli civilians,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley said.