Palestinian-Israeli truce: Biden pledges major financial aid to Gaza for reconstruction

On Saturday morning, May 22, Israel and Hamas maintained their truce for a second day after a cease-fire that ended 11 days of bloodshed went into effect. The first diplomatic talks for emergency humanitarian aid and reconstruction of Gaza have begun. Biden pledged significant aid for Gaza’s reconstruction.

After the bombing stopped, residents were able to go out shopping Friday and check out the damage in Gaza, where many homes were destroyed and some entire buildings were leveled by Israeli strikes, according to an AFP reporter on the ground.

Searchers were still scouring the rubble Friday after removing five bodies and a dozen survivors from tunnels under Israeli shelling.

Escalating violence between Israeli forces and Hamas has killed 248 Palestinians, including 66 children and fighters, according to Gaza authorities.

Rockets fired from Gaza killed 12 people in Israel, including a child, a teenager and a soldier, according to Israeli police.

After a truce went into effect at 2 a.m. Friday, both sides were quick to claim victory, saying they had achieved their respective goals in fighting this war.

Ismaïl Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, hailed the “strategic victory” over Israel and said they had dealt their opponents “a severe and painful blow that will leave a deep mark on the entity.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We achieved our goal, and it was an outstanding success…. …more than 200 terrorists, including 25 senior officers, were killed in the Israeli offensive.

Egyptian state media said two Egyptian delegations had arrived in Israel and Gaza to “monitor” compliance with the ceasefire. The cease-fire in Gaza was brokered by Egypt.

Several emergency humanitarian aid convoys were allowed into Gaza on Friday, but the Egyptian foreign minister said he received a phone call from the Israeli foreign minister and the two sides discussed the measures needed to facilitate reconstruction operations in Gaza. The Hamas Islamist group, which controls Gaza, is considered a terrorist organization by many countries, including Israel, the European Union and the United States.

Biden pledges ‘significant’ financial aid

AFP said the issue of Gaza’s reconstruction is a diplomatic lever for Washington. Biden affirmed at a White House news conference Friday that he intends to provide “significant” financial assistance to rebuild Gaza with the help of the international community, but he also pledged that he would “not give Hamas the opportunity to rebuild its weapons system.

Biden also referred to restarting the “two-state solution,” i.e., the creation of an independent Palestine alongside Israel. He said the two-state solution is “the only possible answer” and that U.S. diplomatic chief John Blinken is expected to travel to the Middle East “in the coming days.