Netanyahu says Hamas paid a 'heavy price' for attacking Israel

Netanyahu says Hamas paid a ‘heavy price’ for attacking Israel and will face ‘a new level of force’ if it attacks again – as fragile ceasefire holds and both sides claim victory after 11 days of fighting

  • Benjamin Netanyahu spoke after a ceasefire was declared with Hamas, ending 11 days of fighting around Gaza
  • He said Hamas had paid a ‘heavy price’, with 200 militants killed and 62 miles of fighting tunnels destroyed
  • He warned further attacks ‘will not be tolerated’ and that Israel is ready to respond ‘with a new level of force’ 
  • Ceasefire held throughout Friday morning, but celebrations in Jerusalem and the West Bank threatened to become flash-points while prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque later today also risked breaking the peace

Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Hamas that Israel ‘will not tolerate’ attacks and it will face a ‘new level of force’ if rocket fire resumes, as a fragile ceasefire declared between the two sides last night appeared to be holding today.

The Israeli Prime Minister declared that Hamas had paid ‘a heavy price’ during 11 days of clashes, claiming 200 fighters had been killed in Israeli airstrikes and shelling that had also destroyed 62 miles of tunnels and severely limited the group’s abilities to launch rocket attacks.

He also warned against any further attacks, saying: ‘If Hamas thinks we will tolerate a drizzle of rockets, it is wrong’ and vowing to respond with ‘a new level of force against any expression of aggression against communities around Gaza and any other part of Israel.’

Meanwhile a Hamas spokesman warned that ‘our finger is on the trigger’ should Israel cross any ‘red line’, pointing to evictions of Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Old City and violence around the Al-Aqsa mosque – which began the latest bout of bloodletting on May 10 – as examples. 

Netanyahu spoke after Israel and Hamas both agreed to an Egypt-brokered ceasefire deal that saw both sides stop fighting at 2am today – a truce that held through the morning with no rocket attacks or bombing reported. 

Israel and Hamas have both proclaimed ‘victory’ after the worst violence the region has seen since the 2014, with  at least 244 people killed, most of them Palestinian.

News of the ceasefire had sparked jubilant scenes in Gaza overnight as street parties broke out, with young men waving Palestinian and Hamas flags, passing out sweets, honking horns and setting off fireworks.

Spontaneous gatherings also taking place in Jerusalem and the West Bank that threatened to become flash-points as the day wore on. Israeli security forces have been pictured firing tear gas at crowds near Bethlehem. 

Crowds of Palestinians are also expected at the Al-Aqsa mosque today for Friday prayers, further threatening to break the peace.  

Palestinians celebrated on the streets of Gaza overnight after Hamas and Israel declared a ceasefire starting from 2am, bringing to an end 11 days of fighting that killed 244 people

Gaza has been pounded by nightly airstrikes since May 10 that have largely kept Palestinians inside their homes, but thousands flooded the streets to celebrate in the early hours of Friday as fighting stopped

People fired guns into the air and shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ as mosque loudspeakers proclaimed ‘victory over the occupation [Israel]’ amid jubilant scenes in Gaza overnight

Palestinians gather for a celebration after ‘mutual and simultaneous’ cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas reached with Egypt mediation took effect at 2am Friday

Palestinians celebrate on the streets of Rafah, Gaza Strip, after a ceasefire with Israel came into effect – allowing them to safely leave their homes for the first time in 11 days

Crowds gather on the streets of Rafah to celebrate after a ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel took effect

A Palestinian man drives through the streets of Gaza, brandishing a machine-gun out of his car window as his children make V for victory signs while poking their heads out of the sunroof

Palestinians celebrate in the streets following a ceasefire, in the southern Gaza Strip

Palestinians celebrate in the streets following a ceasefire, in the southern Gaza Strip

Palestinians take the streets after ‘mutual and simultaneous’ cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas reached with Egypt mediation took effect

Palestinians gather for a celebration after ‘mutual and simultaneous’ cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas reached with Egypt mediation took effect

People take to the streets to celebrate following a ceasefire brokered by Egypt between Israel and the ruling Islamist movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip

Palestinians celebrate in the streets following a ceasefire, in the southern Gaza Strip

Palestinians celebrate the cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas on May 21, 2021 in Gaza City

In the meantime, the truce provides both side with an opportunity to count the cost. In total, 232 Palestinians were killed including 65 children and 35 women, while 12 people including two children died in Israel. 

Israel said its airstrikes destroyed more than 60 miles of Hamas tunnels, along with rocket batteries and a ‘suicide submarine’. It also shot down drones and its Iron Dome defences destroyed thousands of Hamas missiles.

Hamas attacks largely destroyed civilian targets, including homes and a factory.    

Like the three previous conflicts between the bitter enemies, the latest round of fighting ended inconclusively.

Netanyahu has been keen to declare victory, but is facing accusations from his base that the operation was ended too soon, before the IDF had taken out any of its top targets among Hamas’s leadership.

Meanwhile Hamas failed to cause major damage to Israel due to its Irone Dome defences which took down thousands of rockets, but was able to keep up the fire despite nightly bombing raids by the IDF.

The decision to call a ceasefire came mostly due to international pressure, particularly from the US and France. 

President Joe Biden on Thursday hailed the impending cease-fire in the fighting between Israel and Hamas, saying he sees a ‘genuine opportunity’ toward the larger goal of building a lasting peace in the Middle East.

Biden credited the Egyptian government with playing a crucial role in brokering the cease-fire and said he and top White House aides were intensely involved in an ‘hour by hour’ effort to stop the bloodletting. 

‘I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy,’ Biden said. ‘My administration will continue our quiet, relentless diplomacy toward that.’

Britain welcomed a ceasefire announced by Israel and Hamas and called on all sides to work to make it durable and ‘end the unacceptable cycle of violence’ in the region.

‘All sides must work to make the ceasefire durable and end the unacceptable cycle of violence and loss of civilian life,’ UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Twitter, adding that Britain supports ‘efforts to bring about peace’.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in a tweet early on Friday thanked U.S. President Joe Biden for his role in making the Egyptian initiative for a ceasefire in Gaza succeed.

Sisi said he and President Biden both saw the urgency of managing the conflict between all parties with diplomacy.

Egyptian efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israelis and Palestinians went into effect early on Friday.

Israel had launched hundreds of airstrikes that it says have targeted Hamas’ infrastructure, including a vast tunnel network.

Hamas and other militant groups embedded in residential areas have fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israeli cities, with hundreds falling short and most of the rest intercepted. 

Rocket attacks by Hamas and allied Islamic Jihad had resumed after an eight-hour pause on Thursday, as Israel continued shelling that it said aimed to destroy the factions’ military capabilities and deter them from future confrontation after the current conflict.

Palestinians celebrate in the streets following a ceasefire, in the southern Gaza Strip on May 21

Palestinians celebrate the cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas on May 21, in Gaza City

Both Israel and Hamas warned that they could quickly revert to hostilities if the situation changes, but the ceasefire held into Friday morning with no rocket fire or bombing reported

Palestinians celebrate the cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas on May 21 in Gaza City

Palestinians celebrate in front of a destroyed building in Gaza City early on May 21

Palestinians celebrate in the streets following a ceasefire in Gaza City, May 21, following 11 days of conflict in the region 

Palestinians celebrate in the streets following a ceasefire brokered by Egypt between Israel and the ruling Islamist movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip, on May 21

Palestinians celebrate the cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas on May 21

The 11-day conflict marks the worst period of fighting between the two sides since a 2014 war that left more than 2,000 dead

People gesture near the rubble of a damaged building as Palestinians celebrate in the streets following a ceasefire, in Gaza City May 21, 2021

Palestinians take the streets after ‘mutual and simultaneous’ cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas reached with Egypt mediation took effect

Palestinians gather for a celebration after ‘mutual and simultaneous’ cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas reached with Egypt mediation took effect

Palestinians gather for a celebration after ‘mutual and simultaneous’ cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas

In a statement, Netanyahu’s office said the Security Cabinet unanimously approved the proposal after recommendations from the military chief of staff and other top defense officials. The statement boasted of ‘significant achievements in the operation, some of which are unprecedented’ and included a veiled threat against Hamas.

PRESIDENT BIDEN WELCOMES CEASE-FIRE IN ISRAEL 

President Joe Biden on Thursday hailed the impending cease-fire in the fighting between Israel and Hamas, saying he sees a ‘genuine opportunity’ toward the larger goal of building a lasting peace in the Middle East.

Biden credited the Egyptian government with playing a crucial role in brokering the cease-fire and said he and top White House aides were intensely involved in an ‘hour by hour’ effort to stop the bloodletting.

‘I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy,’ Biden said. ‘My administration will continue our quiet, relentless diplomacy toward that.’

The president spoke soon after Israel and Hamas announced a cease-fire would go into effect at 2 a.m. Friday, ending an 11-day war that caused widespread destruction in the Gaza Strip and brought life in much of Israel to a halt. The fighting killed at least 227 in Gaza and 12 in Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Israel accepted the Egyptian proposal after a late-night meeting of his Security Cabinet. Hamas quickly followed suit and said it would honor the deal.

Biden, who spoke to Netanyahu six times in the last 11 days, said Thursday the prime minister credited the Iron Dome missile defense system with limiting the death toll inside Israel. The system is designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells. Biden said he assured Netanyahu that his administration would work to quickly restock the missile defense system.

Biden credited the Egyptian government with playing a crucial role in brokering the cease-fire and said he and top White House aides were intensely involved in an ‘hour by hour’ effort to stop the bloodletting

The cease-fire was announced one day after Biden told Netanyahu in a telephone call that he expected ‘significant de-escalation’ of the fighting by day’s end, according to the White House. But the prime minister came right back with a public declaration that he was ‘determined to continue’ the Gaza operation ‘until its objective is achieved.’

Hours before the cease-fire agreement was reached, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Israelis had ‘achieved significant military objectives’ in their strikes intended to degrade Hamas military capabilities and reiterated that Biden expected the Israelis to start ‘winding down’ their operations.

‘We believe the Israelis have achieved significant military objectives that they laid out to achieve in relation to protecting their people and to responding to the thousands of rocket attacks from Hamas,’ Psaki said.

Biden, who studiously avoided extensive public comment about the Israeli military strikes through the 11-day conflict, was facing mounting pressure from fellow Democrats to speak out against the Israelis as the death toll climbed in Gaza and tens of thousands of Palestinians were displaced by the aerial bombardment.

Throughout the crisis, Biden, in carefully-worded statements and brief exchanges with reporters, underscored Israel’s right to defend itself. But as the death toll and suffering of innocent bystanders in Gaza spread, the position was becoming more difficult to sustain with his Democratic caucus and the international community.

On Tuesday, while in Michigan to visit a Ford facility, Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib confronted Biden on the Detroit airport tarmac and called on him to speak out forcefully against the Israeli strikes. Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York introduced resolutions to block the sale of $735 million in military weaponry to Israel that’s already been approved by the Biden administration.

As the outside calls for Biden to speak more forcefully grew, Biden and top aides privately made the case to Israeli officials that time wasn’t on their side in the court of public opinion.

Administration officials pointed to Hezbollah’s stature rising in the region after their 34-day war with Israel in 2006 to make the case for limiting the time of the military action. Israeli officials pushed back that a slightly prolonged campaign to degrade Hamas’ military capabilities was necessary and in their interest, according a person familiar with the talks who was not authorized to discuss them publicly.

Hamas had sought to portray their rocket barrages as a defense of Jerusalem. Israeli officials made the case to the White House that Hamas’ message lost resonance as mob violence against Arabs in mixed Israeli cities, including Lod, was tamped down.

Biden, in his remarks Thursday, reiterated that United States continues to ‘fully support Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks’ by Hamas and other Gaza-based militants.

Biden also offered condolences for Palestinian lives lost during the conflict and vowed humanitarian aid would quickly flow through the Palestinian Authority, which is in control of the West Bank but not Gaza.

‘We will do this in full partnership with the Palestinian Authority, not Hamas … and in a manner that does not permit Hamas to simply restock its military arsenal,’ Biden said.

‘The political leaders emphasized that the reality on the ground will determine the future of the campaign,’ the statement said.

Taher Nounou, a Hamas official, confirmed the deal. ‘The Palestinian resistance will commit itself to this deal as long as the occupation is committed,’ he said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday he would be prepared to travel to the Middle East, as he headed home from an Arctic tour overshadowed by Israeli-Palestinian fighting.  

‘I am prepared at any time to go to Israel, to the Middle East, if that would serve the purpose of moving beyond the violence and helping to work on improving lives for Israelis and Palestinians alike,’ Blinken said at a press conference in Greenland.

He said that he had pushed for a ‘de-escalation on the path to a ceasefire’ in a phone call with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict had topped journalists’ questions at Blinken’s public appearances in Denmark and at the Arctic Council in Iceland, where he also met his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

He spoke to leaders on both sides, as well as from Arab nations with influence over Hamas, from hotel rooms and the aeroplane in the scramble for a ceasefire.

Now ‘if there’s a good time’ to travel to the Middle East ‘that’s certainly something I intend to do,’ Blinken said without naming a date

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said reports of a move toward a ceasefire were ‘clearly encouraging’.

She said the US was trying ‘to do everything we can to bring an end to the conflict’.

Earlier, Israel had unleashed a new wave of airstrikes across the Gaza Strip as Hamas fired more rockets into Israel.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he spoke to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi by phone on Thursday during a visit to Greenland, and reiterated the message that the United States expects to see a ‘de-escalation on the path to a ceasefire’ between Israel and the Palestinians.

Blinken said there was a deep and shared concern around the world for the deaths of Palestinians and Israelis and Washington’s goal remains to end the violence.

The public broadcaster Kan said the fighting was to halt immediately, while other TV channels said it would go into effect at 2am.

There was no immediate reaction from Hamas.  

It comes after Israel had unleashed a new wave of airstrikes across the Gaza Strip on Thursday and Hamas fired more rockets into Israel, despite growing signs that the sides were close to a cease-fire that would end 11 days of heavy fighting.

In an apparent sign of progress, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened an emergency meeting of his Security Cabinet, where the issue of a cease-fire was expected to be debated.

An Egyptian official said Israel has informed his government, which is mediating a truce, that it intends to end its military operations in Gaza. Speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing behind-the-scenes diplomacy, he said an announcement was expected following the Security Cabinet meeting.

The official spoke shortly after Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi talked by phone with President Joe Biden. The two leaders discussed ways to stop violence in the Palestinian Territories, el-Sissi’s office said.

In Washington, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said reports of a move toward a ceasefire were ‘clearly encouraging.’ She said the U.S. was trying ‘to do everything we can to bring an end to the conflict.’

With U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urging an immediate cease-fire, a U.N. Mideast envoy was in the Gulf state of Qatar to help with efforts to restore calm, a diplomatic official said. 

Energy-rich Qatar often helps mediate between Israel and Hamas and has donated hundreds of millions of dollars for development and humanitarian projects in Gaza in recent years. 

The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.

Osama Hamdan, a top Hamas official based in Lebanon, also said he expected a cease-fire within the coming day.

Biden on Wednesday publicly pressed Netanyahu to wind down the operation. The Israeli leader initially pushed back, appearing determined to inflict maximum damage on Hamas in a war that could help save his political career. 

But by Thursday evening, Israeli media were reporting that a cease-fire agreement was expected to take effect by early Friday, perhaps sooner.

Despite the signs of progress, fighting continued into the evening, with Israeli airstrikes on targets in Gaza and Palestinian militants firing rockets toward Israeli cities. In past rounds of violence, fighting has picked up in the final hours, with each side trying to eke out a final achievement before a cease-fire went into effect.

Earlier Thursday, explosions shook Gaza City and orange flares lit up the pre-dawn sky, with bombing raids also reported in the central town of Deir al-Balah and the southern town of Khan Younis. 

As the sun rose, residents surveyed the rubble from at least five family homes destroyed in Khan Younis. Heavy airstrikes also hit a commercial thoroughfare in Gaza City.

The Israeli military said it struck at least three homes of Hamas commanders in Khan Younis and another in Rafah, targeting ‘military infrastructure,’ as well as a weapons storage unit at a home in Gaza City.

On Wednesday, Biden told Israel on Wednesday that he expected ‘a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire’ – but Netanyahu pushed back, saying he was ‘determined to continue this operation until its aim is met.’ 

Palestinians carry a model of the Dome of the Rock, Judaism’s holiest site, which sits opposite the Al-Aqsa mosque on Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where the latest round of fighting started

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip lined the streets in celebration following as the ceasefire came into effect, with many holding up their phones with the torch feature activated 

People take to the streets to celebrate following a ceasefire brokered by Egypt between Israel and the ruling Islamist movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip

People wave the Palestinian flag as they celebrate in front of a destroyed building in Gaza City

Palestinians gather for a celebration after ‘mutual and simultaneous’ cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas

A family drives in their car as they celebrate following a ceasefire brokered by Egypt between Israel and Hamas

Palestinians gather for a celebration after ‘mutual and simultaneous’ cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas reached with Egypt mediation took effect at 2am Friday

Palestinians take the streets after ‘mutual and simultaneous’ cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas reached with Egypt mediation took effect

Palestinians gather for a celebration after ‘mutual and simultaneous’ cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas reached with Egypt mediation took effect

It marked the first public rift between the two close allies since the fighting began and posed a difficult test of the U.S.-Israel relationship early in Biden’s presidency.

Visiting the region, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Israel has ‘the right to defend itself against such unacceptable attacks.’ But he also expressed concern about the rising number of civilian victims and voiced support for truce efforts.

Even as the diplomatic efforts appeared to gather strength, an Israeli airstrike smashed into the Khawaldi family’s two-story house in Khan Younis, destroying it. 

The 11 residents, who were sleeping outside the home out of fear, were all hospitalized, said Shaker al-Khozondar, a neighbor.

Shrapnel also hit his own home, killing his aunt and wounding her daughter and two other relatives, he said. Al-Khozondar spoke from the bedroom where his aunt Hoda died. The windows were shattered and the bed pillows and rubble stained with blood.

Weam Fares, a spokesman for a nearby hospital, confirmed the death and said at least 10 people were wounded in strikes overnight.

Heavy airstrikes also pummeled a street in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, destroying ramshackle homes with corrugated metal roofs nearby. The military said it struck two underground launchers in the camp used to fire rockets at Tel Aviv.

The current round of fighting between Israel and Hamas began May 10, when the militant group fired long-range rockets toward Jerusalem after days of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a flashpoint site sacred to Jews and Muslims. 

Heavy-handed police tactics at the compound and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers had inflamed tensions.

Since then, Israel has launched hundreds of airstrikes that it says have targeted Hamas’ infrastructure, including a vast tunnel network. Hamas and other militant groups embedded in residential areas have fired over 4,000 rockets at Israeli cities, with hundreds falling short and most of the rest intercepted.

Fighting broke out on May 10 after days of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces around the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, which prompted Hamas to fire a rocket salvo at Israel (pictured) 

Israel responded with airstrikes and artillery fire, with nightly raids in and around Gaza targeting networks of Hamas tunnels 

Israel said its strikes targeted Hamas fighting tunnels, rocket batteries, and offices – though at least 65 children and 35 women were killed in the fighting 

An Israeli artillery gun fires towards targets inside Gaza during fighting earlier this week, which left 244 people dead

Israel said it had destroyed more than 60 miles of Hamas tunnels inside Gaza, which are used by militants to hide from airstrikes and to launch surprise attacks on Israeli troops in the event of a ground invasion

At least 230 Palestinians have been killed, including 65 children and 39 women, with 1,710 people wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which does not break the numbers down into fighters and civilians. 

Hamas and militant group Islamic Jihad say at least 20 of their fighters have been killed, while Israel says the number is at least 130. Some 58,000 Palestinians have fled their homes.

Twelve people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy, a 16-year-old girl and a soldier, have been killed. 

The military said an anti-tank missile fired from Gaza hit an empty bus near the frontier on Thursday, lightly wounding an Israeli soldier.

Since the fighting began, Gaza’s infrastructure, already weakened by a 14-year blockade, has rapidly deteriorated. 

Medical supplies, water and fuel for electricity are running low in the territory, on which Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade after Hamas seized power in 2007.

Israeli bombing has damaged over 50 schools across the territory, according to advocacy group Save the Children, completely destroying at least six. While repairs are done, education will be disrupted for nearly 42,000 children.

Israeli attacks have also damaged at least 18 hospitals and clinics and destroyed one health facility, the World Health Organization said. Nearly half of all essential drugs have run out.

TIMELINE – Hamas and Israel: A history of confrontation 

1987 – Hamas is created at the start of the first Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Two years later, Hamas carries out its first attacks on Israeli military targets, including the kidnap and murder of two Israeli soldiers.

1993 – After years of violence, the first Oslo Accord, aimed at establishing peace between Israel and the Palestinians, is signed. Hamas opposes the peace process, and seeks to derail it with bus bombings and gun attacks in Israel.

2000 – Israel and the Palestinians fail to reach a final agreement in the peace process at a summit in the United States in July 2000. Two months later, Palestinian protests over a visit by Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon to Al-Aqsa mosque compound in East Jerusalem – known to Jews as Temple Mount, because it was the site of ancient Jewish temples, and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary – develop into a Second Intifada.

2001-02 – Hamas carries out a series of suicide bombings in Israel, including killing 21 Israelis outside a Tel Aviv disco in June 2001, and 30 Jewish celebrants at a Passover seder dinner in Netanya in March 2022. Four months later, Hamasâs military commander Salah Shehadeh is killed in an Israeli air strike, and Israel starts a siege of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

March-April 2004 – Israeli air strikes kill Hamas co-founder and spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, and co-founder and political leader Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi, in Gaza within a month of each other. The Hamas leadership goes into hiding and the identity of Rantissi’s successor is kept secret.

Aug. 15, 2005 – Israeli forces start a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, captured from Egypt in the 1967 Middle East war, abandoning settlements and leaving the densely populated enclave under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

Jan. 25, 2006 – Hamas wins a majority of seats in a Palestinian legislative election. Israel and United States cut off aid to Palestinians because Hamas refuses to renounce violence and recognise Israel.

June 25, 2006 – Hamas militants capture Israeli conscript Gilad Shalit in a cross-border raid, prompting Israeli air strikes and incursions. Shalit is finally freed over five years later in a prisoner exchange.

June 14, 2007 – Hamas takes over Gaza in a brief civil war, ousting Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in the West Bank.

Dec 27, 2008 – Israel launches a 22-day military offensive in Gaza after Palestinians fire rockets at the southern Israeli town of Sderot. About 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis are reported killed before a ceasefire is agreed.

Nov 14, 2012 – Israel kills Hamas’s military chief of staff, Ahmad Jabari, and eight days of Palestinian militant rocket fire and Israeli air strikes follow.

July-August 2014 – The kidnap and killing of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas leads to a seven-week war in which more than 2,100 Palestinians are reported killed in Gaza and 73 Israelis are reported killed, 67 of them military.

March 2018 – Palestinian protests begin at Gaza’s border with Israel against its blockade of the enclave. Israeli troops open fire to keep them back. More than 170 Palestinians are reported killed in several months of protests, which also prompt fighting between Hamas and Israeli forces.

May 7, 2021 – After weeks of tension during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, Israeli police clash with Palestinian protesters near Al-Aqsa Mosque over a legal case in which eight Palestinian families face losing their East Jerusalem homes to Jewish settlers.

May 10 – After a weekend of sporadic violence, hundreds of Palestinians are hurt in clashes with Israeli security forces at Al-Aqsa compound, Islam’s third holiest site. After demanding Israel withdraw its security forces from the compound, Hamas fires a barrage of rockets from Gaza into Israel. Israel hits back with air strikes on Gaza.

May 11 – The death toll mounts as the aerial bombardments continue. A 13-story residential building in Gaza collapses after being hit during an Israeli air strike. Palestinian militants launch rockets deep into Israel.

May 12 – The United States announces it will send an envoy to the region. Israel’s military kills a senior Hamas commander in Gaza during more hostilities.

May 13 – Israeli air strikes and militant rocket fire continue, and violence worsens in mixed communities of Jews and Arabs in Israel. Synagogues are attacked and clashes break out in some towns.

May 14 – Israel uses warplanes, tanks and artillery against a network of Palestinian militant tunnels under Gaza in an operation that is followed by more Palestinian rocket salvoes.

May 15 – An Israeli air strike destroys a 12-storey tower block that housed international news media organisations, while Palestinian militants fire rocket salvoes at Tel Aviv.

May 16 – Several homes are destroyed by an Israeli air strike on the densely populated enclave that Palestinian officials said killed 42 people, including 10 children, as rocket attacks on Israeli towns persist.

May 17 – Israeli missile attacks kill top Islamic Jihad commander Hussam Abu Harbeed and hit a seven-storey office building that the military said was used by Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas. Rockets fired by the militants hit a synagogue in the Israeli town of Ashkelon and an apartment block in Ashdod.

May 18 – The United Nations humanitarian agency says nearly 450 buildings in the Gaza Strip have been destroyed or badly damaged, including six hospitals and nine primary-care health centres. Around 52,000 have fled their homes, with most sheltering in U.N.-run schools.

May 19 – Israel says around 4,000 rockets have been launched at it from Gaza, most intercepted by missile defences and some 600 falling within the enclave. U.S. President Joe Biden urges both sides to de-escalate the violence.

May 20 – Both sides resume their attacks but ceasefire talks intensify. Israeli authorities say 12 people have been killed so far in Israel and that it has killed around 160 militants. Health officials in Gaza say 232 Palestinians have been killed, including 65 children, and more than 1,900 wounded.

May 20 – Hamas and the Israeli cabinet issue statements saying a truce has been agreed.

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