Palestinians in Gaza City celebrate a ceasefire bringing Israel’s eight-day bombing campaign to an end, 21 November.(Majdi Fathi / APA images)
Celebrations have erupted across the Gaza Strip after a ceasefire – agreed between Israel and Palestinian resistance factions – came into effect on Wednesday night, giving Palestinians their first peaceful night after eight relentless days of Israeli bombardment.
Under the terms of the agreement, brokered by Egypt, Israel committed itself to end its attacks on Gaza by land, sea and air and to ease its blockade of the coastal territory that is home to 1.6 million Palestinians, most of whom are refugees. In return, Palestinian factions agreed to end rocket fire and cross border military actions.
Many Palestinians saw the ability of resistance factions in Gaza to withstand the Israeli assault, and to force Israel to negotiate an end to its attack, as nothing short of a victory.
As people in Gaza reacted with relief and joy, the toll of the Israeli assault was heavy. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it had received reports that 158 people were killed in Gaza since the Israeli attack began when Israel broke a tenuous ceasefire on 14 November. Of these, 103 were civilians, including at least 30 children and 13 women, according to the figures reported by the BBC.
“What has shocked me most over the last eight days - during which I have reported exclusively from Gaza, with BBC colleagues complementing in Israel, is the appallingly high number of children killed and injured,” wrote BBC correspondent Wyre Davis.
Despite these facts, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, claimed on US public radio that “most of the people that were hit in Gaza deserved it as they were just armed terrorists.”
UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, said 10,000 Palestinians had been displaced in a Gaza Strip that was “traumatized and in crisis.”
In the West Bank, celebrations at the achievement of the Gaza ceasefire broke out in several cities and villages, while Israeli occupation forces embarked on an intensified arrest campaign, detaining hundreds of people in raids over the past week as attention was focused on Gaza.
Four Israeli civilians and one soldier were killed by Palestinian fire from Gaza during the Israeli assault. A second soldier died today of injuries suffered in an attack on Wednesday by Palestinian fighters, Israeli media reported.
As Palestinians everywhere celebrated an end to the violence, some Israelis felt that they had suffered a humiliation. Israel’s Ynet reported that dozens of Israelis rallied against the ceasefire in the Israeli settlement of Sderot near the boundary with Gaza, and several mayors expressed disappointment.
“The fighting should have been concluded with an accord indicating Israel’s clear supremacy and with the Israeli deterrence being restored to its former level,” said Sderot Mayor David Buskila. “After it was promised that Hamas would be eliminated and that we would not negotiate with it, the State of Israel negotiated with Hamas and failed to eliminate it,” Israeli TV presenter turned politician Yair Lapid was quoted by Ynet as saying.
For Palestinians, the damage and wounds of the latest Israeli assault will take time to heal. But for now as some of these pictures show, there is also great joy and relief.
Palestinians celebrate in Gaza City after a ceasefire takes effect, 21 November.(Anne Paq / ActiveStills)
Palestinians in Gaza City celebrate what they say is a victory over Israel after a ceasfire takes effect, 21 November.(Majdi Fathi / APA images)
Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron celebrate the Gaza ceasefire, 21 November.(Mamoun Wazwaz / APA images)
Palestinians celebrate what they call a victory over Israel in the West Bank city of Ramallah, 22 November.(Issam Rimawi / APA images)
A Palestinian man cleans the streets in Gaza City a day after a ceasefire was declared, 22 November.(Majdi Fathi / APA images)
Hamas police officers embrace after their return to their destroyed al-Saraya headquarters in Gaza City on 22 November, a day after a cease fire was declared.(Majdi Fathi / APA images)
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sits after delivering a statement in Jerusalem following the ceasefire, 21 November.(Baz Ratner / Reuters)
Arab League General Secretary Nabil al-Arabi and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu meet with deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in the Gaza Strip, 20 November. Turkey’s foreign minister and a delegation of Arab League foreign ministers traveled to Gaza on a truce mission on Tuesday.(Ashraf Amra / APA images)
Emergency services inspecting the bus on which a bomb exploded in Tel Aviv, 21 November. More than twenty persons were injured, some critically.(Keren Manor / ActiveStills)
Government offices destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, 21 November.(Ashraf Amra / APA images)
Palestinians carry the body of Osama Shehada, 17, during his funeral in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, 20 November. Shehada was killed in an Israeli air strike the previous day while walking with his uncle in the camp, neighbors said.(Ashraf Amra / APA images)
The mother of Foud Hijazi, 45, grieves over the bodies of her son and grandsons Suhaib, 2, and Muhammad, 4, killed in an Israeli strike, during their funeral at a mosque in the Jabaliya refugee camp, Gaza Strip, 20 November.(Naaman Omar / APA images)
The brother of two-year-old Abdel Rahman Majdi Naim, killed in an Israeli strike, mourns in Gaza City, 21 November. The child was killed in a second Israeli strike on the building housing Agence France Presse’s Gaza offices, Gaza government health officials said. No AFP journalists were in the building at the time.(Majdi Fathi / APA images)
Palestinian men on a motorcycle drag the body of a man who was killed for allegedly collaborating with Israel, Gaza City, 20 November. Gunmen executed six alleged collaborators in Gaza City. Hamas chief deputy Moussa Abu Marzouk condemned the killings and called for accountability.(Ezz Al-Zanoon / APA images)
Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish a blaze after an Israeli air strike on the Islamic National Bank building in Gaza City, 20 November.(Majdi Fathi / APA images)
Palestinians look at Wadi Gaza bridge, a strategic link between the northern and southern areas of the Gaza Strip, bombed during an overnight Israeli air strike, 21 November.(Ashraf Amra / APA images)
A Palestinian boy salvages his books from a building destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, 20 November.(Majdi Fathi / APA images)
Displaced Palestinians whose fled their homes gather in their temporary residence at a United Nations-run school in Gaza City, 20 November.(Majdi Fathi / APA images)
Palestinian families evacuate their homes in the back of trucks following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, 20 November.(Majdi Fathi / APA images)
Mourners bid farewell to Hamdi al-Falah in the West Bank city of Hebron, 20 November. Al-Falah was shot by the Israeli army during a Gaza solidarity protest two days prior.(Mamoun Wazwazi / APA images)
Palestinian students at Haifa University protest Israel’s assault on Gaza, 19 November.(Samer Khalifeh / The Electronic Intifada)
Palestinians and Israelis protest Israel’s attacks on Gaza at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, 20 November.(Mahfouz Abu Turk / APA images)
Palestinian security forces stand guard as Palestinians in the West Bank city of Ramallah protest the visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 21 November.(Issam Rimawi / APA images)
An Israeli military jeep blankets Hebron Road in the West Bank town of Bethlehem with tear gas during protests against Israel’s attacks on Gaza, 20 November. The Israeli soldiers entered Bethlehem city streets even though they are part of Area A under the Oslo Accords, which are supposed to be under the sole security jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority.(ActiveStills)
Palestinian students rally in Bethlehem’s Manger Square to protest Israeli attacks on Gaza, 20 November.(Ryan Rodrick Beiler / ActiveStills)