The prospect of peace in the middle-east continues to be elusive as the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, the world’s most enduring hostility flared up in the past weeks.
Just as a cease fire was announced after the recent bombings which saw tensions rising in the past couple of days Israeli security forces fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets at worshippers in al-Aqsa Mosque, hours after thousands gathered at the holy site to celebrate the announcement of a ceasefire in Gaza.
Footage published on social media showed Israeli police blatantly firing into crowds of Palestinian worshippers shortly after they congregated for Friday prayers.
Tens of thousands had come for Friday prayers to celebrate the ceasefire. They carried Palestinian flags, distributed sweets and chanted slogans including “God is the Greatest” and “Greetings to Ezzedin al-Qassam,” referring to Hamas’ military wing, led by Mohammed Deif, who has been targeted repeatedly by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Police entered the compound to confiscate flags and disperse the crowd, provoking angry scuffles. The Jerusalem District commander then ordered mass reinforcements to “handle the protesters.”
At least 20 Palestinians were injured with two being taken to hospital according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society.
The ceasefire between Israel and Hamas appeared to be held late on Friday after 11 days of deadly airstrikes pounded the Palestinian enclave. At least 232 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip, including 65 children.
The scale of the destruction and suffering in just 11 days is truly shocking. Hamas’ information officer Salaameh Maaruf has estimated the damage to be about $250 million. Of this:
* $92 million is damage to housing and NGO offices,
* $40 million is damage to Gaza’s commerce and industry,
* $27 million is damage to roads and water and sewage infrastructure,
* $23 million is damage to government building,
* $22 million is the cost of replacing the electricity distribution grid, and
* $24 million is damage suffered by the agricultural sector.
About 800,000 people have no regular access to drinking water.
Almost 10,000 metres of underground sewage and water lines, as well as wastewater networks, sewage evacuation vehicles, wells and a wastewater pumping station have been damaged. At least 50 schools have been seriously damaged.
More news to follow as events in the Middle East continue to unfold we will update as we closely follow this and other top stories from the region.
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