Throughout the night since it went into effect Jerusalem time and into midday the mutually agreed upon ceasefire between Hamas and Israel in Gaza is holding; however, Israel has vowed that any future rocket attacks will be met with a "new level of force".
"If Hamas thinks we will tolerate a drizzle of rockets, it is wrong," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned. He said Israel had successfully embarked on "daring and new things, and this without being dragged into unnecessary adventures" in the eleven day operation. He characterized the military campaign as inflicting "maximum damage to Hamas with a minimum of casualties in Israel."
The Israeli leader counted that the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) took out 25 senior commanders among some 200 militants - numbers which are hotly disputed by Gaza's Health Ministry, which has reported that it is mostly civilians among the at least 232 Palestinians killed, including 65 children. Twelve civilians were killed on the Israeli side.
Fighting stopped in what was dubbed an agreement based on "quiet in exchange for quiet" hours after Israel's Security Cabinet said it had "unanimously accepted the recommendations to accept an Egyptian initiative for an unconditional... ceasefire."
Like with the 2014 war and prior conflicts, large swathes of Gaza City lie in rubble - especially after multiple high-rise buildings were utterly flattened in intentional Israeli airstrike operations to bring them down. Yet the Palestinian side is still claiming victory, with street celebrations having started immediately after the 2am truce. The Associated Press describes:
Thousands took to the streets of Gaza as the cease-fire took hold at 2 a.m. Young men waved Palestinian and Hamas flags, passed out sweets, honked horns and set off fireworks. Celebrations also broke out overnight in east Jerusalem and across the occupied West Bank. Israel captured all three territories in the 1967 war and the Palestinians want them for their future state.
Both sides sought to impose a steep "cost" on the other, and both are now claiming victory. In the case of Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets, they caused daily life to come to a halt throughout much of Israel, with many Israelis spending multiple nights in bomb shelters.
By 12 hours into the Gaza ceasefire, Israeli police once again stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque complex in Jerusalem - reportedly leaving dozens injured, which was an initial reason Hamas said it fired rockets into Israel...
Watch as Israeli forces storm Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and fire tear gas at Palestinians celebrating the ceasefire after Friday prayers.— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) May 21, 2021
🔴 LIVE updates: https://t.co/v8UKhitk1T pic.twitter.com/xM34b7iIJ6
Shortly after Israel announced the ceasefire Thursday night, Joe Biden gave a three-minute speech over the crisis in which he pledged "full support" both for the ceasefire and Israel's right to defend itself.
"In my conversations with President Netanyahu, I commended him for his decision to bring the current hostilities to a close within less than 11 days. I also emphasized what I've said throughout this conflict: the United States fully support Israels’ right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks from Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorists groups," Biden said.
Biden noted too that he spoke with the Israeli PM no less than six times, and vowed United States assistance to help replenish the Iron Dome anti-air defense system.
During the course of the fighting, the US blocked proposed UN statements urging immediate ceasefire five times. This prompted China to charge that the US was "choking" any criticism of Israel at the UN.