Pakistan is marking “Palestine Day” today (Friday) across the country to show solidarity with the victims of the Gaza massacre, with protest demonstrations and rallies planned across several parts of the country.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a meeting that took place a few days ago, had directed officials to hold protests to demonstrate Pakistan’s unflinching support for the people of Palestine on Friday.
The PM had issued the orders during a meeting he chaired of government spokespersons. The aides of the PM had advised him to hold such a demonstration on Friday.
Israel has been pounding Gaza with air strikes, killing more than 250 men, women and children since tensions heightened following the Sheikh Jarrah evictions and Israeli police brutality at the Al-Aqsa mosque.
Pakistan has raised its voice against Israeli aggression at the United Nations, with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi saying that the voice of the Palestinians cannot and will not be silenced.
Hamas-Israel ceasefire comes into force
A highly anticipated ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that runs the Palestinian Gaza Strip officially came into force early Friday at 2:00am (2300GMT Thursday).
Only celebratory gunfire was heard on Gaza streets, AFP journalists said as truce came into effect three hours after the decision was made by Netanyahu’s cabinet.
Earlier, Israel had announced a ceasefire to bring to a close an 11-day military operation in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office had issued a statement on Thursday that said his Security Cabinet has unilaterally approved the ceasefire proposal put forward by Egypt.
“The political leaders emphasized that the reality on the ground will be that which determines the future of the campaign,” the statement said.
The Egyptian-mediated decision came as the Israeli premier was under increased pressure from the US to halt the offensive.
The Hamas representatives were not available for immediate comment.
Since May 10 when the offensive was launched, Israel has launched hundreds of airstrikes that it says have targeted Hamas’ infrastructure, including a vast tunnel network.
In the southern Gaza town of Rafah, devastating Israeli air strikes turned buildings into clouds of dust and rubble, as an ambulance sped across town to help the wounded.
UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland was visiting Qatar for talks with Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of Hamas, as part of an effort to “restore calm,” according to a diplomatic source.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said “indirect talks” with Hamas were essential to advancing efforts toward an end of hostilities.
“Of course Hamas has to be included, because without Hamas there will be no ceasefire,” Merkel said, who also spoke to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas Thursday, where they agreed the need “for a speedy ceasefire”.