Palestinians in Gaza marked a national holiday on Thursday to celebrate what
Hamas leaders said was a victory over Israel, after eight days of intense
hostilities ended in a cease-fire on Wednesday at 9 p.m.
Palestinians celebrated, waving flags of Hamas, Fatah and smaller groups such as
the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine – as well as the Egyptian
flag in a nod at the involvement of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in
brokering an understanding between Israel and Hamas.
celebrating. I was just having a walk around Gaza. Everyone is taking to the
streets after been cooped up for days, waving flags out of cars, or helping with
the clean-up,” says Rana Baker, a 21-yearold student of business administration
at the Islamic University in Gaza. “The shops are reopening and people are out
trying to stock up. I saw people are trying to extinguish fires – some of the
buildings are still smoking from yesterday’s air strikes. They’re cleaning up
After spending almost more than a week inside, she says,
Gazans were spilling into the streets with a celebratory, communal
“It’s actually very encouraging what we see on the streets.
People are mopping up, and helping shopkeepers fix their stores, people are
moving away cars so we can clean up the debris underneath them. People want to
restore the calm and make Gaza beautiful again,” she adds.
triumphantly declared victory in the week-long war, and many Gazans seem to
Unlike the devastating war almost four years ago, the
three-week-long Operation Cast Lead which ended in January 2009, few Gazans
express frustration at Hamas, and said the operation seemed to unify
Palestinians rather than divide them.
Most Palestinians, she notes, don’t
see the conflict as having been touched off by the assassination of Hamas
military chief Ahmed Jabari on November 14, but by the shooting by IDF forces on
November 8 of Hamid Younis Abu Daqqa, a 13-yearold boy. The incident happened
near one of the largest smuggling tunnels.
“Everybody blames Israel
because Israel started the attack,” Baker said. “Basically everybody is really
happy that the resistance was able to send a clear message to Israel, that if
you want to use violence against us, you have to deal with the
They can’t expect the Palestinian people to fold its hands
and watch this unfold. Killing a 13- year-old cannot be washed away.”
celebratory march was planned for the afternoon in Gaza, and there would be
further celebrations after Friday prayers, Palestinian sources said. Hamas
officials declared victory over loudspeakers around the Gaza Strip, calling on
people to come participate in various celebrations, and to go to visit the
“families of martyrs” who died in the war.
Palestinians said they had no
knowledge of any rockets being fired after the ceasefire started. Blogger Yousef
Aljamal said that his area, the An-Nuseirat Refugee Camp, had not been too badly
hit, but then at 8:30 on Wednesday night, just before the cease-fire went into
effect, he saw an air strike hit a building 100 meters away from his
“The general feeling in the Gaza Strip today is that Gaza won the
battle with Israel,” he says. “There is a feeling among people that we survived
the latest escalation.
Israel decided that it had certain goals for this
But the vast majority of people hurt were civilians, so Israel
didn’t achieve its goals – and that means it’s a victory for the Palestinian
people. Also, Palestinians became more united because of this, with the people
in the West Bank standing along with people in Gaza.”
he says, sensed that Israel gave up before it had reached its objectives – and
that Netanyahu had used the conflict to help him in upcoming
Drones still buzz overhead, he adds, but otherwise Gaza is
quiet – except for the honking of car horns and announcements over mosque
“I was traveling through Jabalya, talking to the driver and
passengers in the car, and they were all saying [Prime Minister Binyamin]
Netanyahu and [Defense Minister] Ehud Barak lost the battle. Our driver
understands Hebrew and he watched the speeches on TV, and he said, ‘I could see
defeat in their faces.’”