Gaza crossing opens as truce holds between Islamic Jihad and Israel

RAFAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – Fuel trucks entered Gaza as an Egypt-brokered truce between Israel and Islamic Jihad militants held on Monday (Aug 8).

It raises hopes that the intense strikes that left dozens of Palestinians dead have ended.

An AFP journalist at the goods crossing to southern Gaza saw trucks loaded with fuel enter the enclave, ending a severe shortage which prompted the only power station there to shut down on Saturday.

The arrival of vital supplies follows the implementation of a ceasefire at 11.30pm on Sunday (4.30am Monday Singapore time), to stem the worst fighting in Gaza since an 11-day war last year devastated the Palestinian coastal territory.

Gaza’s health ministry said 15 children were among 44 people killed in the intense fighting.

Despite a flurry of strikes and rocket attacks in the run-up to the truce, neither side has reported any major violations of the agreement overnight.

The Israeli military said roads will gradually reopen in the border area on Monday.

“It was decided to gradually lift the restrictions,” which have seen Israelis remain close to their bomb shelters, the army said.

‘Fragile’ truce

In a statement sent three minutes after the ceasefire began, Israel’s army said that “in response to rockets fired toward Israeli territory, the (military) is currently striking a wide range of targets” belonging to Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

In a subsequent statement, the army clarified that its “last” strikes took place at 11.25pm.

While both sides agreed to the truce, each warned the other that it would respond with force to any violence.

US President Joe Biden welcomed the ceasefire and thanked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for his country’s role in brokering it.

In a statement, UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland said: “The situation is still very fragile, and I urge all parties to observe the ceasefire.”

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office late on Sunday thanked “Egypt for its efforts” as it agreed to the truce, but said that “if the ceasefire is violated”, Israel “maintains the right to respond strongly”.

Islamic Jihad, an Iran-backed group designated as a terrorist organisation by several Western nations, also accepted the truce but said it too “reserves the right to respond” to any aggression.

Starting last Friday, Israel launched a heavy aerial and artillery bombardment of Islamic Jihad positions in Gaza, leading the militants to fire hundreds of rockets in retaliation.