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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat is an Arabic-language international newspaper headquartered in London.
Photo of a Palestinian woman waiting to cross into Gaza from the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing
FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War
Elias Kassem

Return At Your Own Risk: Gazans Stranded In Egypt Use Ceasefire To Go Back Home

Having been stuck outside their besieged homeland, hundreds of Palestinians have reentered Gaza, preferring to risk it all to be close to loved ones.

RAFAH — Like most Palestinians elsewhere in the world, Marwan Abu Taha has spent the past seven weeks glued to his phone screen, anxiously following the news in Gaza and talking with family in the besieged enclave.

But unlike others, Abu Taha was also desperately trying to get back inside Gaza.

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The father of four, among several thousand Palestinians stranded in Egypt since the war broke out, was allowed to cross back into Gaza on Saturday amid the current, temporary ceasefire.

“It’s a risk,” Abu Taha said over the phone from his home in Gaza’s central town of Deir Al Balah. “But I wanted to come back to be with my children.”

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Photo of Palestinians looking for their belongings in the rubble of their housein Deir al-Balah, Gaza
FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War
Elias Kassem

Our Next Four Days In Gaza: Digging For The Dead, Hunting For Food, Hoping Ceasefire Sticks

With Qatar now confirming that the temporary truce will begin Friday morning, ordinary Gazans may be able to breathe for the first time since Oct. 7. But for most, the task ahead is a mix of heartbreak and the most practical tasks to survive. And there’s the question hanging over all: can the ceasefire become permanent?

It’s what just about everyone in Gaza has been waiting for: a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war is expected to begin Friday, bringing a respite to more than 2.3 million people who have been living under war and siege for seven straight weeks.

By the stipulations of the deal, the truce is expected to last four days, during which time Hamas will release hostages captured during their Oct. 7 assault and Israel will release Palestinian prisoners from their jails.

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While details of the negotiations continue, ordinary Palestinians know they may only have four days before the bombs start dropping and tanks start rolling again.

Some will continue sifting through the rubble, looking to find trapped family members, after searches were interrupted by new rounds of air attacks.

Other Gazans will try to find shelter in what they’ve been told are safer areas in the south of Palestinian enclave. Some will hurry back to inspect their homes, especially in the northern half of the strip where Israeli ground forces have battled Palestinian militants for weeks.

Ahmed Abu Radwan says he will try to return to his northern town of Beit Lahia, with the aim of resuming digging the rubble of his home in hopes of pulling the bodies of his 8-year-old son Omar.

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Photograph of Iranian Demonstrators holding Palestinian flags and a caricature of Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu​
FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War
Elias Kassem

As Gaza Gets More Dire, Escalation May Be Iran’s Only Option

Iran this week has reaffirmed its full support for Hamas, issuing new threats to escalate with more attacks like Oct. 7. This came after some in the region had criticized Iran for now joining the fray directly. With the rising rhetoric, Iran can't stay passive forever.


CAIRO — It was just hours after the deadly October 7 Hamas assault that Iranian leaders sent an effusive congratulatory message to the Palestinian militant group it has long supported with funds and weapons.

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But in the intervening five weeks, Tehran has mostly kept a low profile, and even take some distance from the Hamas attack in southern Israel that killed 1,200 and triggered the Israeli military’s assault in Gaza that has killed more than 12,000.

Some even suggested that the Iranian regime was so worried about being drawn directly into a region-wide conflict that it might quietly cut off its support of Hamas.

But now, Tehran is making it clear that escalation is by no means off the table.

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