The guns have fallen silent but tension remains high between Palestinians and Israelis. The truce was held on Saturday morning, May 22 in Israel and the Gaza Strip, twenty-four hours after the entry into force of a ceasefire with fragile contours. Emergency humanitarian aid is being organized and the first diplomatic discussions are taking place with a view to the reconstruction of the Palestinian enclave devastated by eleven days of conflict.
Taking advantage of the end of the bombing, residents were able to go out on Friday to refuel and inspect the damage in Gaza. Rescuers are looking for survivors in the rubble after removing five remains on Friday. According to the latest toll, escalating violence between the IDF and Hamas has left 248 Palestinians dead, including 66 children and fighters, and 12 Israeli dead, including a child, a teenage girl and a soldier.
A few hours after the entry into force of the ceasefire on Friday, May 21, clashes between Palestinian worshipers and Israeli police broke out on the Mosques Esplanade in East Jerusalem. Results: twenty wounded, including two hospitalized, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. This highly symbolic place – Islam’s third holiest site and Judaism’s holiest site – had already been the scene of extreme violence on May 7, which led to the military escalation between Hamas and Israel.
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At the origin of the tensions: the eviction of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem. Threatened with eviction, four families are still awaiting the decision – several times postponed – of the Israeli Supreme Court. It must rule on their fate on June 8.
Jerusalem still in question
Until then, all observers know: East Jerusalem remains a pressure cooker ready to explode at any moment. Once again. “The Palestinians are no longer satisfied with a symbolic exchange, they now want social and spatial justice”, summarizes the sociologist and specialist in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and in Israel, Sylvaine Bulle. For the first time, Palestinians from Gaza, the West Bank and Israel have united their voices. The most striking fact of these eleven days of war: several mixed cities of Israel went up in flames.
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Even today, the cities of Jaffa, Lod and Saint Jean d’Acre are to be watched, estimates the specialist. “The Palestinians in these cities realized that they were not alone. If there are new clashes in East Jerusalem, it will spill over into the rest of Israel much more easily, now that there is a precedent ”, she assures.
Each camp welcomed the ceasefire on Friday, claiming victory. Despite the clashes in East Jerusalem, the ceasefire still held on Saturday morning. “The ultranationalists regret that the war did not go further”, warns Stéphanie Laithier, historian in charge of research at the Practical School of Higher Studies (EPHE) and specialist in Israel.
The far right distinguished itself during the conflict by its ability to stir up the embers. The supremacist deputy Itamar Ben-Gvir was himself at the origin of the first outbreak of violence in Sheikh Jarrah when he set up his “parliamentary office” there in support of the Jewish settlers.
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On the Palestinian side, Hamas has undoubtedly “Scored” to the people of the Gaza Strip. Its political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, assured that the fight against Israel would only end with the “Release” of Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, newspaper reports Haaretz. “How will Mahmoud Abbas react (head – almost absent – of the Palestinian Authority, Editor’s note)? “, asks Stéphanie Laithier.
If the two parties seem to come to terms with the truce, the situation remains volatile. The United States, a major player in the ceasefire agreement, called for reconsidering the two-state solution, “Only answer possible”. The head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, is due to visit in the coming days.
Biden backs two-state solution
US President Joe Biden hammered at a press conference on Friday, May 21 that peace could only come about with an agreement allowing two states, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, to live side by side and in security. ” It’s the only way “, he said. “I let the Israelis know that I consider it very important that they put an end to these clashes in Jerusalem between communities which are the work of extremists on both sides”, he added.