Almost a month after it launched Operation Protective Edge, the IDF today withdrew its troops from Gaza after Israeli officials and Hamas agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire brokered by Egypt.
The Israeli military added that it had completed its goal of destroying Hamas’s underground tunnels, tweeting “Mission accomplished.”
Since the beginning of the latest escalation 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed. In Gaza, 1,867 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and many of them children, have been killed.
A spokesman for the IDF told Reuters that the force had "redeployed in defensive positions outside the Gaza Strip and we will maintain those defensive positions."
A spokesman for Hamas countered the “mission accomplished” line — calling Israel’s offensive a “100 percent failure" instead. Minutes before the ceasefire started at 8AM local time, Hamas reportedly fired more rockets into Israel, causing no casualties, in retaliation for the “massacres” of Palestinians.
The almost month-long airstrikes and ground invasion caused massive destruction in the densely populated Gaza Strip. The videos below, posted during a brief humanitarian ceasefire on Monday by the International Committee of the Red Cross and a local news organization, show some of the destruction in the Shujaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City and in Khuza’a, east of Khan Yunis.
Nearly 500,000 residents of the strip have been displaced by the conflict — with many seeking refuge in UN schools turned into shelters. Those facilities were also repeatedly attacked, in what UN officials have condemned as "a moral outrage and a criminal act."
With the latest offensive possibly winding down, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki met with International Criminal Courts (ICC) prosecutors today, claiming "clear evidence" of Israeli war crimes in Gaza. Neither Israel nor Palestine are ICC members, though Palestinian officials have recently signaled an interest in signing up to the court's establishing treaty.
'Nothing compares to the atrocities, the carnage, committed by Israel.'
"Everything that has happened in the last 28 days is clear evidence of war crimes committed by Israel, amounting to crimes against humanity," he told reporters.
If they do join the ICC, Palestinian officials will automatically green-light potential inquiries into their own conduct back to 2002. Maliki said he would accept that, "but nothing compares to the atrocities, the carnage, committed by Israel," according to Reuters. The two parties to the conflict have repeatedly traded accusations of war crimes.
The large number of civilian casualties has drawn widespread international condemnation of Israel's escalation. In the UK, Sayeeda Warsi, the first female Muslim Cabinet member, resigned today in protest at what she described as the British government's "morally indefensible" stance in support of Israel.
Follow Alice Speri on Twitter: @alicesperi