Israel and Hamas agree to a ceasefire · First dead bodies under rubble are being recovered by Palestinian medical crews · Israel starts withdrawing its forces · Hamas demands full Israeli withdrawal · At least 1,300 people have been killed and 5,100 have been injured
Following the declaration of unilateral truce by Israel and Hamas, humanitarian aid is reaching Gaza Strip to relieve a population who has undergone Israeli bombardments for the last three weeks. Ma’an Palestinian news agency reports today that 49 doctors coming from Arabic, European and North-American countries have entered Gaza with 140 tons of medical supplies. The agency also reports that several Arabic countries have sent in 400 tons of food.
This is the first urgent aid to reach a territory which has been severely damaged after the 22-day intense military campaign, a conflict that has resulted in at least 1,300 dead people and 5,100 injured (click here for an interactive day-by day war monitoring on The Guardian). The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics estimates in a preliminary study that 4,100 buildings have been destroyed and 17,000 have been damaged.
Since yesterday medical crews are taking out corpses from under the ruins. Ramattan Palestinian news agency informs that 98 dead bodies were found on Sunday and says that, according to medical sources, it is believed that there are still many people buried. Palestinian services have started their work after Israeli troops started their pullout. Hamas has said that they are to maintain truce on condition that Israel fully withdraws from Gaza within a week.
Olmert and Haniya try to claim victory
Both Israel’s PM, Ehud Olmert, and Ismail Haniya, prime ministerial authority in the Gaza Strip, seem now satisfied. Olmert said in his statement issued on Saturday that the ceasefire was “a first important step in trying to change the security situation in the south part of the State of Israel in order to advance the chances that ultimately will bring peace to our area”. Throughout the whole conflict Olmert’s cabinet had repeatedly argued that their only aim was to protect the towns of Be’er Sheva, Sderot and Ashkelon, not to conquer the Gaza Strip. Therefore, they added, they expect to withdraw “as soon as possible”.
On the contrary, Haniya holds that Palestinians are the real winners of the war. Gaza’s PM has referred to the outcome of war as a “great victory for the Palestinian people”, a consideration alluding the spirit of resistance against Israeli attacks shown for three weeks by Arabic militants. However, Palestinians have paid dearly for such “victory”: 1,300 people have been killed. In other words, 100 times more than Israeli casualties.
Al Jazeera: Destroyed homes greet returning Gazans (vídeo)