By Arab News
By Hazem Balousha
Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad and Israel agreed to halt hostilities across the Gaza Strip border on Thursday, ending a two-day confrontation that left 34 Palestinians dead and more than 100 injured.
The Egyptian-brokered truce went into effect about 48 hours after Israel triggered the exchange of fire by killing the Iranian-backed faction’s top Gaza commander in an air strike.
Fighting between Islamic Jihad and the Israeli army erupted after Israel assassinated a senior commander in the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, early on Tuesday.
According to the ministry of information, 190 Palestinian houses were damaged and five completely destroyed in the Israeli bombardment. At least 15 schools were also damaged.
As calm returned to the Gaza Strip, Palestinians expressed relief, but cautioned that the current round of fighting was unlikely to be the last.
“We are living in a constant cycle of escalation and calm,” said Sumaya Al-Rubaie, 55. “Life is difficult in Gaza. No one can live normally in this besieged enclave.”
“My husband and I and four of my children spent two days at home without going out for fear of shelling and rocket fire. We want to live a decent life without fear,” she told Arab News.
Gazans fear the outbreak of a new war in light of the continuing difficult humanitarian and economic conditions in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas and its military wing did not respond to the Israeli shelling, leaving Israel to focus on Islamic Jihad targets.
“The current round is over, but will the suffering of the Gaza Strip end? Certainly not. There is no work, no economy, no stability and freedom of movement is limited. At any time the bombing can come back again,” Ibrahim Al-Danaf, 28, said.
“What the Gaza Strip needs is national unity, a search for the future of youth, and an end to Israeli violations by agreeing on a policy of confrontation, not with every political faction deciding alone.”
Political analyst Hani Habib said that while the Israeli blockade remains and the political split between Fatah and Hamas continues, the Gaza Strip “will continue to suffer from difficult political and humanitarian conditions.”
The current confrontation and three previous clashes had achieved nothing for Gazans, he said.
“On the contrary, the results were disastrous on more than one level.”
Israel reopened the Erez crossing with the Gaza Strip on Thursday. The commercial Kerem Shalom border crossing will reopen on Sunday.