Israel’s Operation Protective Edge has seen more than 2,100 Palestinians killed, most of them civilians, and 69 people on the Israeli side, all but five of whom were soldiers. Many buildings and some neighbourhoods of Gaza are in ruins, and the UN last week estimated that physical damage from the war was three times that seen in Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s first war against Hamas in 2008-9.
On Tuesday, John Reed in Jerusalem reported in the FT that Israel and Hamas had agreed a truce. This has brought an open-ended ceasefire that began at 7pm. The Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, in a brief television address, thanked Egypt, Qatar and John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, for their role in arranging the ceasefire.
There were street celebrations in some parts of Gaza on Tuesday evening, with residents cheering and raising green Hamas banners. In east Jerusalem, Palestinians set off fireworks above Damascus Gate, at the entrance to the Old City.
Deutsche Welle covered the news with an article and video (snapshot above), reporting that the Egyptian mediators who helped to broker the ceasefire announced that deal was official. Israel has agreed to ease some curbs on imports and to allow humanitarian aid and reconstruction materials into Gaza, but many other issues are still to be resolved. The Egyptian Foreign Minister said in his statement that indirect peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians were “to continue within the space of a month.”
Is Israeli policy beginning to lose support?
In Israel, the war has hurt the popularity of Mr Netanyahu; a poll commissioned by Israel’s Channel 2 found the prime minister’s support had fallen to 38%, down from 63% in a similar poll three weeks ago.
The FT reports “a creeping fear that Israel is beginning to lose the argument in the US about the wisdom of its military action in Gaza”. A new opinion poll by Gallup demonstrated a big generational gap in views about the situation in Israel/Palestine. Americans in the 18-29 group 51% said Israel’s current use of force current use of force was unjustified and 23% supported these actions, whereas in the 55-65+ agegroup, 54% believed its current use of force was justified and 30% said it was unjustified.
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