May 20, 2021

Israel and Hamas have reached a cease-fire. Now what?
A "mutual and simultaneous" cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was confirmed late Thursday, per Reuters, after 11 days of violence in the Gaza Strip that left as many as 232 Palestinians and 12 Israelis dead. The "truce" will reportedly take effect on Friday at 2 a.m. local time (7 p.m. ET), per NBC News. Peace, however, may not be quite imminent. In the hours before the cease-fire begins, violence might continue as each side fights for the "last word." As a statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says, "The reality on the ground will determine the future of the operation."


Even as news of the cease-fire was confirmed, sirens alerting incoming rocket fire "were sounding in the south of [Israel]," reports USA Today. The worst bout of violence between Israel and Hamas since 2014 has pushed "already suffering" Gaza deeper into a "humanitarian crisis," wrote The New York Times on Tuesday. Hospitals are overwhelmed, medical supplies are running low, and the only COVID-19 testing site was reportedly destroyed, says AP. Matthias Schmale, director of Gaza's U.N.-run refugee organization, said the health-care system had been "significantly weakened. I wouldn't say it's on its knees, but getting close." The cease-fire may allow the World Health Organization to send medical supplies to Gaza once the border reopens.
The cease-fire will also have political ramifications for Netanyahu — some say his political prospects have been bolstered by the violence. "Netanyahu is back in his comfortable role as Mr. Security," AP wrote, "and [Israel] could soon be headed for yet another election campaign that would guarantee him at least several more months in office." Members of Netanyahu's party reportedly said he was in no rush to end the conflict because he believed it would boost his image in the next election. A comment from President Biden is expected following a White House confirmation of the cease-fire.

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