As a shaky cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militants held Saturday after 11 days of fighting, Egyptian mediators held talks with both sides to solidify the truce.
The Egyptian delegation arrived in Israel on Friday and since has shuttled between Israel and Palestinian territories, an Egyptian diplomat and Hamas officials said Saturday.
The Egyptian diplomat said talks to secure a long-term end to the violence included ways to prevent actions that sparked the violence.
The U.N. Security Council issued a statement Saturday welcoming the cease-fire and calling for immediate humanitarian aid for Gaza. The Egyptian government said it had sent a 130-truck convoy of urgently needed medical supplies and other types of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip that was to arrive Saturday.
On Saturday, hundreds of Hamas fighters paraded through Gaza City, wearing masks and carrying assault rifles. Yehiyeh Sinwar, the top Hamas leader in Gaza, whose house was bombed by Israel in the fighting, appeared in public for the first time in days to pay his respects at the mourning tent of Bassem Issa, a senior Hamas commander.
Saturday was the first full day of the cease-fire and Palestinian civilians emerged to survey the damage caused by hundreds of artillery shells and airstrikes from Israel. One of the city’s commercial districts was a scene of debris from a 13-story building brought down by an Israeli airstrike.
"We really didn't expect this amount of damage," said Ashour Subeih, who sells baby clothes, told The Associated Press. "We thought the strike was a bit farther from us. But as you can see not an area of the shop is intact." Having been in business for one year, Subeih estimated his losses were double what he had made so far.
Israel and Hamas both claimed victory Friday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a television address Friday that the military operation had damaged Hamas' ability to launch missiles at Israel, killed more than 200 militants and destroyed parts of Hamas' tunnel network. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant group have acknowledged only 20 fighters killed.
Hamas also claimed victory, with chief Ismail Haniyeh saying the group successfully resisted a militarily and economically stronger foe, and he vowed to rebuild what was destroyed in Gaza. Hamas and other militants fired more than 4,000 rockets toward Israel.
The World Health Organization said 30 health facilities in Gaza had been damaged. WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said at least 243 Palestinians had been killed in the fighting and 8,538 had been injured.
The United Nations said it had allocated $18.6 million to Gaza for emergency humanitarian needs. It said more than 72,000 Palestinians had been displaced in Gaza.
Reaction to the cease-fire was mixed from residents in the southern Israeli city of Sderot on Friday morning. Some criticized the government for what they described as a hasty move. Others praised the action as a necessary and positive one in the interest of peace.
U.S. President Joe Biden said Netanyahu informed him Thursday that Israel "has agreed to a mutual, unconditional cease-fire" with the Hamas militant group.
"I believe we have a genuine opportunity to make progress, and I'm committed to working for it," Biden said.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted Friday that he "will be traveling to the region in the coming days" and will meet with "Israeli, Palestinian, and regional leaders."
.@SecBlinken: I spoke with @Gabi_Ashkenazi and welcomed his confirmation that the parties had agreed to a ceasefire, mediated by Egypt. I will be traveling to the region in the coming days and look forward to meeting the FM and other Israeli, Palestinian, and regional leaders.— U.S. Embassy Vienna (@usembvienna) May 21, 2021
The State Department said Thursday that Blinken would “discuss recovery efforts and working together to build better futures for Israelis and Palestinians” during his visit.
The deadly exchange of rocket fire and airstrikes, the fiercest fighting between the Palestinian militant group and Israeli forces since the 2014 war in Gaza, were sparked on May 10 by growing unrest over control of Jerusalem and attempts by Jewish settlers to take over Arab-controlled communities.
Hamas fired rockets at Israeli cities from Gaza and Israel retaliated with targeted artillery shelling and airstrikes on leaders of Hamas and the group's infrastructure. The Israelis faced international condemnation for blowing up high-rise buildings and striking refugee camps and other targets, which caused extensive civilian casualties.