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Palestinians claim victory as Gaza truce faces early test

Posted at 2:10 AM, May 21, 2021

Palestinians have rallied by the thousands after a cease-fire took effect in the latest Gaza war.

The 11-day conflict left more than 200 dead — the vast majority Palestinians — and brought widespread devastation to the already impoverished Gaza Strip.

The rocket barrages fired by Gaza's militant Hamas rulers that brought life to a standstill in much of Israel were seen by many Palestinians as a bold response to perceived Israeli abuses in Jerusalem.

In turn, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday warned Hamas about coordinating further attacks. He said Israel would not tolerate any further rocket attacks from Hamas and would meet such aggression with a "new level of force."

The truce faces an early test on Friday, when tens of thousands of Palestinians attend weekly prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, a flashpoint holy site revered by Jews and Muslims.

The cease-fire decision came amid global pressure on both Israel and Hamas to quell the violence. On Wednesday, President Joe Biden issued a statement saying he expected a "significant de-escalation" in tensions. That same day, the Wall Street Journal reported that Egyptian officials had made headway in negotiations with leaders of Hamas.

According to CNN, more than 220 Palestinians, including more than 60 children, had been killed in the 10 days of violence. CNN added that during that time span, 12 Israelis had been killed, including two children.

While Hamas, a Palestinian fundamentalist military operation, has fired thousands of rockets into Israel, Israeli defense systems have shot down the majority of those missiles.