Gaza, May 22 : A relative calm has dominated the Gaza Strip after an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas came into effect in the besieged enclave after 11 days of bloodshed.
Violent tension and 11 days of a tit-for-tat trade of fire in the besieged coastal enclave ended at 2 a.m. on Friday after the ceasefire came into effect, Xinhua news agency reported.
Abu Obeida, a spokesman of Hamas’ armed wing al-Qassam Brigades, said in a speech aired on the movement’s al-Aqsa television that militant groups halted firing rockets at Israel to make the ceasefire successful.
“We had prepared strikes of rockets that would cover all (Israel) from the city of Haifa in the north to Ramon in the south, but we responded to the cease-fire to watch the enemy’s behaviour,” the spokesman said.
Right after the fighting ended, a search operation was launched to find missing people from under the rubble of hundreds of buildings that were destroyed since May 10.
In the Gaza Strip, the rescue teams found 10 Palestinians dead, who were buried under the rubble of a completed destroyed building struck on Thursday evening, according to Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qedra.
He added that another girl was found dead under the rubble of a house in Gaza city, which was destroyed by Israeli fighter jets on Thursday night.
“The death toll since the start of the aggression on the Gaza Strip reached 243, including 66 children, 39 women and 17 elderly,” al-Qedra said, adding that 1,910 were injured.
There were 12 casualties on the Israeli side.
A Palestinian government official said on Thursday that more than 1,800 housing units in Gaza have been destroyed as a result of Israeli attacks.
Naji Sarhan, a senior official of the Ministry of Public Works and Housing in Gaza, said that more than 17,000 housing units were partially damaged, according to the initial estimates of the losses.
Sarhan said that five large residential towers were completely demolished, while 74 government facilities and headquarters were destroyed.
He added that the ministry’s staff has been working around the clock since the beginning of the tension to remove the rubble of the destroyed houses and open the streets.
Sarhan said the financial losses for the demolition of buildings and residential facilities hit about $150 million, according to preliminary estimates.
The official added that the Ministry needs $350 million to rebuild the housing sector.