- Author, Oliver Slough
- Role, .
Fighting resumed between Israel and Hamas on Friday morning, bringing an end to a seven-day ceasefire between the two sides, which saw the release of hostages and prisoners and the arrival of urgently needed humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.
Here are answers to some questions about recent developments.
Why did the ceasefire end?
An hour before the temporary truce was scheduled to expire at 7 a.m. local time (5 a.m. GMT), Israeli forces reported sirens sounding in Israeli towns bordering the Gaza Strip – and then said they had intercepted a missile fired from the Strip.
An hour later, the Israeli army said that fighting had resumed, accusing Hamas of violating the terms of the agreement.
Then the Israeli army said that its warplanes were striking Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.
A short time later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Hamas had not “fulfilled its commitments to release all women hostages today and fired rockets at Israeli citizens.”
But Hamas blamed Israel for the resumption of fighting, saying it refused “to accept all offers to release other hostages.”
She said in a statement that “the occupation had a prior decision to resume its brutal aggression,” blaming US President Joe Biden for “the continuation of Zionist war crimes in the Gaza Strip” and for “giving the green light to Israel.”
During the week-long ceasefire, Netanyahu came under pressure, especially from right-wing elements in his government, to relaunch the war – something Israel has consistently made clear it intends to do once the agreement expires.
Despite this, there are still hopes that an agreement can be reached. Qatar confirmed on Friday that negotiations are continuing “with the aim of returning to a ceasefire,” and Doha has played a decisive role so far in those ceasefire negotiations.
What is the situation in Gaza?
The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza said more than 60 people were killed within seven hours of the resumption of fighting, in addition to about 15,000 Palestinians it said were killed before the truce.
James Elder from UNICEF, the United Nations organization that cares for children, spoke to the BBC from a hospital in southern Gaza after the bombing began, describing the situation as “terrifying.”
He said the situation was “terrible for people” and that “you see the fear in their faces,” adding that an air strike occurred near the facility where he was.
He described the end of the ceasefire as “the nightmare that everyone feared.”
Before the ceasefire, the Gaza Strip was subjected to widespread destruction as Israel carried out its retaliatory campaign in response to the Hamas attack on October 7.
Israel claims that it used more than 10,000 bombs and missiles, and the BBC’s analysis unit concluded that approximately 98,000 buildings in the Gaza Strip may have been destroyed, with most of them located in the northern regions.
Israeli air strikes also halted humanitarian aid. Relief agencies were able to take advantage of the cessation of fighting to bring in necessary aid, but they reported that they found destruction in many of the areas they reached.
What will happen next?
Although negotiations continue in the hope of reaching a new agreement, it is currently clear that the war has resumed.
After weeks of intense fighting in the northern Gaza Strip – especially around Gaza City – the Israeli army now appears to be focusing most of its attention on the south, where reports indicate renewed air strikes are taking place.
The army also created a map of the Gaza Strip divided into more than 2,000 areas, which it said it would use to help people in Gaza flee the coming fighting. He said that the map is divided into areas to allow people to “evacuate from certain places for their safety if necessary.”
On Friday, Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets on the areas east and north of Khan Yunis, the largest city in the southern Gaza Strip, linked to the map. The leaflets did not refer to any of the numbered gatherings, but rather contained a message in . informing residents in four areas by name of the need to “evacuate immediately and go to shelters in Rafah.”
The renewed fighting comes after US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met with Israeli officials, during which he stressed the need to ensure the protection of civilians in the next phase of the war.
Blinken said he informed the Israeli government that it must avoid further mass displacement of Palestinians and the destruction of basic infrastructure, such as hospitals, power plants and water facilities.
What happened during the ceasefire?
During the seven days of the ceasefire, Hamas agreed to release 110 people detained in Gaza, including 78 Israeli women and children.
Within the framework of the same agreement, 240 Palestinians were also released from Israeli prisons. There were various charges brought against them, from throwing stones to incitement and attempted murder.
Among them were Palestinians who had been released after being convicted of crimes, and others who were in pre-trial detention awaiting trial.
It is estimated that about 140 Israeli hostages are still being held in Gaza.