Following the announcement of a ceasefire on Saturday night between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Southern Israel began the first steps back towards normal life. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Homefront Command decided on Sunday morning to start rolling back the restrictions put in place during Operation Shield and Arrow, marking a refreshing return to peace.
Western Negev, Central Negev, Western Lachish, and Lachish areas had all restrictions lifted, a welcome relief to the resilient townspeople. By noon, the Gaza periphery saw its restrictions removed as well, though with some necessary limitations still in place. While only minimal activity will be allowed initially, workplaces where safety shelters can be accessed will be able to resume operations.
In an attempt to balance safety and normalcy, gatherings and services in these areas are being limited to 10 people in open areas and 100 in a building. Educational activities will be temporarily suspended, with the exception of special education, which will continue as long as students can safely reach a shelter. Public beaches, too, are temporarily closed, as the region strives to ensure the safety of its citizens.
In a promising development, COGAT Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian declared the partial and gradual reopening of the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings. The full reopening of these crossings, along with the maritime zone which was closed during the operation, will be determined following situational assessments.
Late Saturday night, a statement from the Prime Minister’s office brought words of gratitude and peace. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed NSC Director Tzachi Hanegbi to thank Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and express Israel’s appreciation for Egypt’s significant efforts in helping establish the ceasefire.
The NSC Director emphasized that Israel’s acceptance of the Egyptian initiative signifies that “quiet will be met with quiet”. He made it clear that while Israel is committed to peace, it will continue to do everything necessary to defend itself if threatened or attacked.
As we witness Southern Israel returning to normalcy, we’re reminded of the strength, resilience, and unity of the Israeli people. This turn of events reaffirms Israel’s commitment to peace, its undying dedication to ensuring the safety of its citizens, and its unwavering determination to stand strong in the face of adversity. Let’s celebrate Israel’s enduring spirit and keep promoting the values of unity, peace, and security that the State of Israel so beautifully embodies.