A day after the ceasefire, which brought its jubilant supporters pouring into the streets of Gaza, Hamas, Palestinian militant group — after spiritedly countering ceaseless Israeli air strikes with its volley of rockets — formally claimed victory in its eight-day war with Israel.
At a press conference in Gaza on Thursday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh thanked Egypt, especially its game-changing President, Mohamed Morsy, for securing the ceasefire that ensured that Gaza emerged victorious.
“I thank our Egyptian brothers and Egyptian intelligence for their tireless efforts to reach the ceasefire. We are satisfied with the ceasefire agreement as a basis for stopping aggression against Gaza.”
Under the terms of the deal, Israel has agreed to “stop all hostilities on the Gaza Strip, land, sea and air including incursions and targeting of individuals”. Palestinian factions, on their part, “shall stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel, including rocket attacks, and attacks along the border” according to the text of the agreement.
Israel has also committed to open all border crossings and ease movement of people and goods, 24 hours after the ceasefire takes effect.
“After eight days, God stayed their hand from the people of Gaza, and they were compelled to submit to the conditions of the resistance,” said Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal at a Cairo hotel on Wednesday after the deal had been signed.
He also thanked Egypt, as well as Iran, which he acknowledged “had a role in arming” his movement.
“I would like to thank our dear Egypt, aided by the brave elected President Mohamed Morsy... Egypt acted responsibly and understood the demands of the resistance and the Palestinian people,” said Mr. Meshaal
Ahead of the ceasefire, Iran acknowledged it had transferred technology but not war material into Gaza. Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, Mohammad-Ali Jafari, said Iran supplied Fajr-5 know-how to the Palestinian resistance movement.
Victory for resistance
“Gaza is currently under siege so we cannot help them,” said Major General Jafari, but added that the transfer of technology had enabled the Palestinian resistance to quickly produce these weapons on its own.
Jubilant crowds, chanting the victory slogan, “the resistance has won”, flooded the streets of Gaza and the West Bank as news about the ceasefire spread in the night. AFP quoted Ahmad Bahr, a senior Hamas official, as saying: “The resistance groups have achieved a historic victory and paved the way for the battle of liberating Palestine.”
Ceaseless air strikes by Israel during the conflict had killed at least 140 Palestinians and destroyed tens of buildings, including the office complex of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
The war would also remain etched in public memory for the targeted attack on media centres, underscoring that a parallel media war was as much in play during the Gaza conflict, as the fighting itself.
In sharp contrast, the deal was met with disappointment and a sense of frustration in Israel.
“This wasn't the conclusion we prayed for,” said Ashdod Mayor Yehiel Lasri, after the truce.
“I am afraid this lull will last for only a short while, and hope that at least we have garnered international support for a harsh response that will become necessary when the fire is renewed”, Israel’s Ynet news quoted him as saying.
David Buskila, the mayor of the city of Sderot that borders Gaza and has long endured Palestinian rocket strikes slammed the ceasefire deal. Dozens of angry residents of the city also took to the streets demanding the resignation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“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 Mr. Buskila.
“I hope the decision turns out to have been the right one. Only time will tell. “In any case, I feel no pride,” he observed.