Israel reopens Gaza border crossings after ceasefire ends

Israel reopens Gaza border crossings after ceasefire ends

Israel has reopened border crossings into Gaza after an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with the militant Islamic Jihad group that ended the bloodiest escalation of fighting around the volatile Palestinian enclave in more than a year.

The opening of border crossings on Monday allowed fuel trucks to supply Gaza's only power plant and increase the availability of electricity, which was down to about eight hours a day.

At least 44 people, 15 of whom were children, were killed in 56 hours of violence that began when Israeli air strikes hit a senior Islamic Jihad commander, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Israel said it was preparing for a pre-emptive strike against an attack planned by the Iranian-backed group.

Hundreds more people were injured and several houses destroyed in the Gaza Strip, according to officials.

Palestinian militants fired more than 1,000 rockets at Israel, sending residents of southern areas and major cities including Tel Aviv fleeing to shelters.

The ceasefire is fragile. If a resumption of hostilities is done, Palestinians and Israelis will have devastating consequences and make any progress on key issues elusive, UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland told the UN Security Council on Monday.

After the fighting ended, both sides sent out a triumphant message.

The entire senior military command of Islamic Jihad in Gaza was successfully eliminated in three days, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a televised statement.

In a news conference on the pro-Iranian station Al Mayadeen after the ceasefire late on Sunday, Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhala declared: This is a victory. Israel saw it as a significant degradation of Islamic Jihad capabilities.

An Israeli military official said that Islamic Jihad was dealt a serious blow from which it will take time to recover, as well as the loss of two senior commanders, which would severely disrupt its ability to plan and carry out operations.

Israeli officials said 20 fighters were killed by the strikes and large amounts of anti-tank weapons and rocket production and storage facilities were destroyed, as well as the two commanders.

"I think they were surprised by our capabilities and the level of our intelligence and operational abilities," a senior Israeli diplomatic official told reporters.

A spokesman for Islamic Jihad in Gaza said the group might have suffered losses to its leadership and fighting strength but was able to impose conditions on Israel and maintain unity and cohesion.

We have a human element, the human miracle that can repair abilities regardless of how humble they are. There was no reaction from Hamas.

Israel was aware of the danger of escalating the conflict, so Israel focused on Islamic Jihad targets in order to avoid drawing Hamas, the much larger and more powerful militant group that rules Gaza.

Hamas has fought four wars against Israel since it took control of Gaza from the rival Fatah group in 2007.

It has used Gaza as a base to launch rocket attacks on Israeli cities.

Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed during Israeli strikes in Gaza.

Israel needs to carry out the strikes in self-defence.

Hamas offered little verbal support to its smaller ally after an 11 day war in May 2021 that killed 250 Gazans and wrecked the fragile economy of the zone, but took no action as Israel pursued its air strikes.

However, the human cost in Gaza, a narrow coastal strip where 2.3 million people live, was heavy.

Every two years, war, war, Gaza fisherman Jihad Meqdad, 44, said.

The Iron Dome air defence system, which officials said had a success rate of about 96 per cent in intercepting rockets from Gaza, was the only serious casualties on the Israeli side, thanks largely to the Iron Dome air defence system.