Short-lived truce gives Gazans respite

Gazans and displaced families took to the streets to inspect their homes during a brief ceasefire.

Fishermen tried to catch some fish during the short ceasefire [Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera]
Fishermen tried to catch some fish during the short ceasefire [Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera]

As soon as the 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire, declared by the US and UN, took effect at 8am on Friday, Palestinians and displaced families took to the streets to inspect their homes in the east and north of the Gaza Strip while others went to the market.

Fishermen went to the sea hoping to find some fish after being barred from fishing since the beginning of the Israeli military offensive on July 8.

But the sound of shelling and bombing forced people back to their homes and shelters as the short-lived humanitarian ceasefire brokered by the US and UN collapsed. Israel expanded its artillery fire in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, following reports of the killing of two soldiers and a possible capture of a third. Israel soon announced the end of the truce.

Saqer Bakr, 37, fisherman

 [Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera]

I heard the news about the ceasefire via the radio. The first thing I decided to do is to go to the sea to try to catch some fish and sell them to help feed my 10-member family. We have not set sail since the beginning of the war. I could not believe that I would have three days to work and offset the losses I suffered when I was out of business.

We lost four children from our [extended] family. The 4 children who were killed when Israel hit them while playing on the beach on July 16.
Shells damaged my fishing gear and one of my boats while they were docked at the harbour. I’m too exhausted because I did not sleep well, and I worry all day and night because of the shelling. A house near my home [in the Beach refugee camp west Gaza City] was bombed.
Ahmed al-Qerem, 13, seventh grader

[Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera]

Our home is in Shujayea. It was completely destroyed during the invasion of east Gaza. We moved to my sister’s home but because it was overcrowded, we rented an apartment in Gaza City.

I was sitting outside my home, in the street. I saw people coming out to the street and they were talking about a ceasefire. I told my family and they went to Shujayea to inspect our home and try to get some of our stuff that was left at my sister’s home.

I was very happy and I came with my twin brother, Mahmoud, to the sea to refresh. I miss the sea. I haven’t been here for a long time.

Sabah Attar, 52, displaced along with her family in a UN-run school shelter in Gaza City

[Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera]

We returned immediately to the school. We left the school at 8, just when the truce started. We returned only after two hours. All of us have gone to the house to check it; I, my husband and my 13 children and daughter-in-law. I hope they will contain it again and renew the truce. These are hard days, we have been at the school for 19 days.We were happy when we heard there was a truce. We decided to go and inspect our home in Attatra area [in Beit Lahiya, north Gaza Strip]. We went there and we saw our home had received a shell. We started cleaning the home from dust and debris, but we heard three bombings. My husband heard on the radio that the ceasefire was over.

Bahaa Ashqar, 38, otolaryngology doctor 

[Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera]

I was expecting this will not happen and that we would be able to have a respite after weeks of non-stop work. We want to live in peace like all other people in the world. I had planned to use the truce to check on and see my friends and ask them how it has been for them. I hope it will hold again.I was at home when I heard about the ceasefire. I was happy because it would be the first day that I go to work in my own car. I came to the al-Shifa hospital but I soon learned that the ceasefire was collapsing. I saw injured people being rushed to the hospital.


Umm Mohammed Abu Jedyan, 61
[Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera]

We are displaced. We stay at the school after leaving our home in northern Gaza. My daughter delivered a child two days ago in a Caesarean section surgery and she is here at the hospital. She told me about the ceasefire after her husband texted her. I took the advantage of going out to my friend’s home to cook soup for my daughter. I heard sounds of bombing on my way back to the hospital. I do not trust Israel to honour the ceasefire. Two days ago they killed some people during ceasefire. I’m concerned about my daughter and her baby. I hope peace will return before she leaves the hospital.


Follow Fares Akram on Twitter: @faresakram

Source: Al Jazeera

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