Israel-Hamas cease-fire goes into effect, life returns to Gaza

The fighting was the worst since the 2014 Gaza war

A cease-fire between Israel and Hamas went into effect early Friday and appeared to be holding in its initial hours after 11 days of violence that left hundreds dead.

In Gaza, Palestinians celebrated the truce in the streets while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced angry accusations from his right-wing base that he stopped the operation too soon.

Israel reportedly lifted restrictions on the border with Gaza later Friday morning, hours after the 2 a.m. truce began. 

The Israeli military also said it had killed around 200 Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants and destroyed more than 60 miles of a vast tunnel network used by Hamas, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.  


The fighting was the worst since the 2014 Gaza war. Like the three previous wars, the latest round of fighting ended inconclusively. Israel claimed to inflict heavy damage on Hamas but once again was unable to halt the Islamic militant group's nonstop rocket barrages. 

Palestinian Rahaf Nuseir, 10, looks on as she stands outside her family's destroyed homes, to which they returned following a cease-fire reached after an 11-day war between Gaza's Hamas rulers and Israel, in town of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, Friday, May 21, 2021. (Associated Press)

At least 230 Palestinians were killed, including 65 children and 39 women, with 1,710 people wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which does not break the numbers down into fighters and civilians. Twelve people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl, were also killed.

The cease-fire was brokered by Egypt and welcomed internationally. 

President Biden on Thursday praised the end of the violence. "I believe we have a genuine opportunity to make progress, and I’m committed to working for it," he said.

The U.S. is committed to helping Israel replenish its supply of interceptor missiles for its Iron Dome rocket-defense system, Biden said, and to working with the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority — not Hamas — to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken planned to meet with Israeli, Palestinian and other Middle Eastern leaders "in the coming days to discuss recovery efforts and working together to build better futures for Israelis and Palestinians," the State Department said. 

An Israeli soldier sits on top of a tank at a staging ground near the border with Gaza Strip, southern Israel, Friday, May 21, 2021. A cease-fire took effect early Friday after 11 days of heavy fighting between Israel and Gaza's militant Hamas rulers that was ignited by protests and clashes in Jerusalem. (Associated Press)


The fighting erupted May 10, when Hamas militants in Gaza fired long-range rockets toward Jerusalem. The barrage came after days of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Heavy-handed police tactics at the compound, built on a site holy to Muslims and Jews, and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinians by Jewish settlers had inflamed tensions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.