Israel-Gaza ceasefire holds despite single rocket strike

Militants claim missile that landed in Israeli territory was fired due to malfunction

The aftermath of Israeli strikes in the Palestinian town of Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip. EPA
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The fragile truce that ended five days of strikes between Israel and the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad was holding on Monday, despite a single rocket fired from the enclave into Israeli territory.

The missile activated warning sirens in the south of the Israeli city of Ashkelon and surrounding areas on Sunday night. It fell on open ground and no injuries were reported.

A source in a coalition of Gaza’s militant groups told Al Jazeera the launch was the result of a malfunction and “the resistance confirms its commitment to the ceasefire”.

Israel’s military subsequently said its tanks fired on two observation posts belonging to Palestinian Gaza-based group Hamas.

The brief exchange followed the culmination of international efforts, led by Egypt, to broker a ceasefire to the violence that killed 33 Palestinians and two people in Israel. One was an elderly Israeli woman, the other a Gazan farmworker who had crossed into Israel for work. About 20,000 Gazans have permission to work in the country.

Israel, the US and the UN thanked Egypt for its efforts to negotiate the ceasefire, which came into effect only days before the Israeli celebration of Jerusalem Day, which has at various points been the trigger for violence between Israeli forces and Gaza militants.

As part of the celebrations, mostly right-wing and far-right Israelis march through Jerusalem’s Old City, including most controversially through its Muslim Quarter.

Despite calls to do so for security reasons, Israeli authorities do not plan to alter the traditional route on Thursday, leading to fears the march could trigger another wave of violence.

In the West Bank, a Palestinian man was shot dead on Monday morning, as Israeli forces prepared to demolish the home of a Palestinian who killed two Israeli brothers in the West Bank in February.

The total number of Palestinians killed by Israeli gunfire has risen to 152 this year, including 33 who were killed during the most recent bout of violence in Gaza.

Barefoot and pushing their belongings in prams and carts, Arab families leave the Mediterranean costal town of Jaffa in 1948. Photo: UN

The latest killing also comes on the day of the 75th anniversary of the Nakba — the day marking a mass displacement of around 700,000 Palestinians from their homes following the creation of Israel.

Many people argue that the Nakba is still happening, due to continued killings and displacement of Palestinians.

Last week, the UN Human Rights Office in the Occupied Palestinian Territories said it was “deeply concerned” by the forced eviction of the Ghaith-Sub Laban family in the Old City of Jerusalem.

An Israeli court had previously ruled that the home of Nora Ghaith, 68, and Mustafa Sub Laban, 72), would be seized by a settler organisation called the Galicia Trust.

The Sub Laban family has been fighting the trust in a legal battle since 2010.

The eviction notice against the Ghaith-Sub Laban family is scheduled for June 11.

“The forced eviction of the Sub Laban family is part of ongoing evictions of Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem, primarily based on discriminatory laws and practices, which violate the human rights of Palestinians, resulting in forced evictions, the loss of property and sources of livelihood,” the UN said in a statement.

Forcible transfer is prohibited under international law “and may amount to a war crime”, it added.

Updated: May 15, 2023, 2:26 PM