Seven weeks of fighting (almost 50 days) were the most violent in years, ended finally with open-ended cease-fire agreement between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza. The cease-fire went into effect at 7 p.m. local time (noon ET) Tuesday.
The war took the life of more than 2,200 Palestinians, of which most of them were civilians, while more than 11,000 were injured and some 100,000 left homeless. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said 540,000 people had been displaced in Gaza.
Several horrible massacres were committed by the Israeli army (IDF) during the 50 days, while Palestinian powers, including Hamas, killed 64 soldiers and 6 civilians and fired around 4,000 rockets. The conflict was clearly unbalanced. Israel also successfully killed several top Hamas military commanders, and destroyed three high-rise buildings, as many videos show.
Hamas, the Islamist armed organization that controls Gaza, announced the victory despite the fact that not all of its demands is going to be achieved. Hamas claims most of its military arsenal is intact, but Israel claims it has destroyed most of Hamas’s network of military tunnels and supplies.
Since July 8, Hamas – supported by other Palestinian resistance movements – have succeed to fire about 4,000 rockets and mortars at Israel, making thousands of Israelis flee from areas surrounding Gaza, during the recent weeks.
Both sides (Hamas and Israel) have agreed to an Egyptian-sponsored deal, which has been incredibly hard to reach. The new ceasefire is not the first one since Israel started its war on Gaza on 8 July. Most of the earlier ceasefires were last only for hours or days.
Different Opinions in Israel
The senior Israeli minister, Yuval Steinitz, claimed in a television interview that he accepted the cease-fire “with a sour taste of missed opportunity.”
Israeli government spokesman, Mark Regev, said: “this time we hope the ceasefire will stick.” He described the deal as one Hamas had rejected in previous negotiations.
“We have no problem with civilian support for Gaza, we don’t want to see Hamas rebuild its military machine.” He said.
The Israeli media revealed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had deliberately not put the cease-fire to a vote in his security cabinet because many ministers were against it. They wanted to continue with the war! Netanyahu faced some criticism from various Israeli communities who believed the deal failed to stop “Gaza militants”.
Israel’s Tourism Minister, Uzi Landau, was one of those who reprimand the Israeli authorities during his talking on Israel Radio early Wednesday (August 27th). He criticized Israeli leadership for “wanting peace at any price.” He claimed that this would weaken Israel’s ability to stop militants.
Mayor Itamar Shimoni of Ashkelon, a city of 115,000 less than 10 miles from Gaza, said in a radio interview: “I will only believe in an agreement with Hamas if we have an international guarantee that all of the planned goals of this operation are reached.”
Massive Wining Celebrations in Gaza
“We are here today to declare the victory of the resistance, the victory of Gaza, with the help of God, and the steadfastness of our people and the noble resistance,” Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman. He also added: “We achieved some of our instantaneous demands out of this battle. We become closer to Jerusalem and our Palestinian lands.”
Tens of thousands of Gazans responded to Hamas invitation to flood the streets of Gaza City late Tuesday night.
Ahmed Awf, 55, a teacher in Gaza, came holding his 2 years son to join Celebrations, he said:
“we have mixed feelings. We are in pain for the losses but we are also proud we fought this war alone and we were not broken.”
Children carrying weapons took part in the celebrations, as the streets were flooded men, women, children, and others on motorbikes or in cars, in addition to fireworks and singing, as well as celebratory gunshots fired into the air.
What is the New Deal?
In fact, the new ceasefire means that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian resistances in Gaza settled for terms that are similar to those that ended war with Israel in 2012.
According to a statement from Egypt’s Foreign Ministry: Israel will ease imports into Gaza, including aid and material for reconstruction.
Israel also agreed to expand a fishing zone for Gaza fishermen from three to six nautical miles into the Mediterranean.
Israel is now considered to be achieving only 1 goal: restoring quiet! Hamas promised to stop rocket fire from Gaza at Israel.
Palestinian and Egyptian officials said the deal, which was agreed to in Cairo, called for an unclear end of warfare and quick opening of Gaza’s blockaded crossings with Israel (which was imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas seized Gaza by force in 2007), and an expansion of their fishing zone in the Mediterranean.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement:
“As soon as calm is restored, the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance to the people in Gaza must be accelerated.”
“We are approaching the next phase with our eyes wide open,” Kerry added.
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, “carefully” welcomed the new deal and repeated focusing on the needs of Palestinians in Gaza. He said:
“Palestinians in Gaza have suffered greatly under Hamas’s reign, and it is high time that their needs are put first over their rulers’ blind ambition.”
The spokesperson for United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the ceasefire declaration and ensure that any violations would be “utterly irresponsible,” in a statement released Tuesday.
“Any peace effort that does not tackle the root causes of the crisis will do little more than set the stage for the next cycle of violence,” the statement warns.