The Gaza Strip lived another sleepless night on Friday, but this time it was not because of the intense Israeli bombardment to which the besieged coastal territory was subjected for the past 11 days.
Instead, tens of thousands poured into the streets, celebrating stop the fire agreed by Israeli and Palestinian armed groups, singing in support of the resistance.
The mosques sounded the prayers of Eid al-Fitr, a week after the holidays, and spent sweets in a celebration that had been postponed by death and destruction. People also took the opportunity to visit those whose relatives had been murdered.
Ceasefire celebrations spread to several cities in the occupied West Bank and the Palestinian neighborhoods of occupied East Jerusalem, and many praised armed groups and the perseverance of Palestinians in Gaza.
According to Gaza’s health ministry, 248 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s latest offensive, including 66 children and 39 women. At least 1,910 more people were injured. More than 90,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homes, and much of Gaza’s infrastructure and many civilian buildings were severely damaged or completely leveled.
On the Israeli side, 12 people died, including three foreign workers.
The ceasefire, promoted by the Egyptian mediator, saw the “mutual and unconditional” cessation of hostilities between the Israeli army and Palestinian armed groups that began on Friday at 2 a.m. Thursday at 11 p.m. GMT).
No terms were officially given and Israel’s security cabinet said it had voted unanimously in favor of a “mutual and unconditional” Gaza truce.
However, Hamas spokesman Abdel-Latif al-Qanou told Al Jazeera that the armed groups had imposed their own conditions.
He said they included an end to the forced expulsions of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood east of Jerusalem, and the incursions of Israeli security forces into the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
“Israel has retreated in the face of armed resistance and failed to achieve any of its goals which it said it would do when it launched its offensive,” al-Qanou said.
For now, the ceasefire remains, although Israeli forces attacked the grounds of the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday, firing rubber-coated steel bullets and sound grenades.
“Now Israel is being tested and resistance groups in Gaza are seeing how it will react,” al-Qanou said.
“This ceasefire is nothing more than a pause, an opportunity to gain more strength to face any other Israeli aggression.”
“Stop the embarrassing fire”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the offensive had dealt Hamas a “blow he can’t imagine,” saying he had “changed the equation” and pushed Hamas back for years.
Netanyahu said the Israeli army had destroyed Hamas’ network of tunnels in Gaza, as well as many rocket factories and shops, and claimed more than 200 Palestinian fighters had been killed, including 25 senior officials.
However, many Israeli politicians criticized the ceasefire as a humiliating capitulation to Hamas.
New Hope party leader Gideon Sa’ar called the ceasefire “shameful” and lamented that even “with the best intelligence and air force in the world, Netanyahu managed to get one from Hamas.” cease fire unconditionally “.
Itamar Ben Gvir, a far-right member of the Knesset, said: “The shameful high embargoes are a serious capitulation to the terror and impositions of Hamas.”
Avigdor Lieberman, who resigned as defense minister in 2018 after Israel agreed to an Egypt-mediated deal after two days of intense fighting in Gaza, called the ceasefire “another failure for Netanyahu.” .
“Unprecedented Palestinian support”
Adnan Abu Amer, a Gaza-based Palestinian political analyst, said the general consensus among Palestinians is that Hamas has won this round of fighting, both on the military and political fronts.
“Despite the 11-day offensive and relatively little material damage to the Israeli side, Hamas has dealt a severe blow to Israel’s image around the world, this time more than the last war in 2014,” he said. a Al. Jazeera.
“This is because the escalation did not stem from the Gaza Strip and the blockade, but rather from the collective issue – supported by the Islamic, Arab and majority community of the international community – which is imperative for the Palestinian cause, that of Jerusalem. “
Hamas and other Palestinian groups in Gaza fired thousands of rockets at Israel during the 11 days. Long-range missiles fired by armed groups in Gaza caused the shutdown of two main airports.
Abu Amer, meanwhile, said the rhetoric used by the Palestinian Authority (such as defending the two-state solution) has been widely received because it is out of touch with what is happening on the Palestinian street.
“[This rhetoric] it undermines any increase in Palestinian support for Hamas after each offensive, “Abu Amer said.
“This time, we have seen unprecedented Palestinian support [for the resistance] across the country, stating that Israeli policies in Gaza are also an extension of policies in Jerusalem, the West Bank and against Palestinians living in the 1948 territories, ”he said.
“Before the Palestinians in these territories came out in candlelight in solidarity with Gaza, but this time they represented a clear part of the resistance against Israel,” Abu Amer said.
On Monday, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians staged a general strike in all territories. In the occupied West Bank, at least 28 Palestinians were killed in several-day protests against the Israeli army, the health ministry said, with thousands more wounded.
For now, Hamas and Israel clearly want the ceasefire, however unstable it may be, Abu Amer concluded. The Gaza Strip needs a break after the severe Israeli coup.
For Palestinians in Gaza, the ceasefire is nothing more than a respite and represents the hope that the continuing struggle of daily life that is being suffered as a result of the paralyzing blockade of the coastal enclave will end, sooner or later. hour.
“As with any movement that exposes the crimes of Zionism and challenges the European and American narrative, global solidarity is sweet, but my most important victory is that it has diminished the chance of Israel sitting on its chest for long “, Mahmoud Qudaih, a Palestinian social media user of Khan Younes dit.
“We bury our martyrs and take air to continue, because the war of liberation continues and does not stop.”