Gazans Pour Onto Streets in Celebration as Israel, Hamas Cease-fire Begins

May 20, 2021 09:18 PM
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Palestinians, many of whom had spent 11 days huddled in fear of Israeli shelling, poured into Gaza's streets, Thursday, May 20, as a truce between Israel and Hamas began at the hour set by Egyptian mediators. 

READ MORE: U.S. President Joe Biden said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed him Thursday that Israel "has agreed to a mutual, unconditional cease-fire" with the Hamas militant group. 

The truce, scheduled to begin at 2 a.m. local time Friday (2300 GMT), would return an uneasy calm to Israel and to Gaza. 

Hamas has fired rockets at Israeli cities from Gaza since May 10, for what it said were rights abuses committed by Israel against Palestinians in Jerusalem.   

Israel had retaliated with targeted artillery and airstrikes on leaders of Hamas and the group's infrastructure. The Israelis had faced international condemnation for blowing up high-rise buildings and striking refugee camps and other targets, which caused extensive civilian casualties.   

"We held intensive high-level discussions, hour by hour, literally," said Biden of what he called U.S. "quiet diplomacy" to reach an agreement.