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Israelis Skeptical as Gaza Cease-Fire Takes Hold

  • Robert Berger

Israelis hold signs and flags as they protest the cease-fire in the southern Israeli city of Kiryat Malachi, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012.

Israelis hold signs and flags as they protest the cease-fire in the southern Israeli city of Kiryat Malachi, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012.

A cease-fire that ended eight days of deadly fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza is taking hold. But expectations in Israel are low.

Work crews are cleaning up debris in Southern Israel after dozens of homes and businesses were damaged in Palestinian rockets. Traffic is back on the streets, shops are reopening and Israelis are assessing the damage.

There is a sense of relief that the rocket attacks are over, but also a sense of skepticism that the cease-fire will last. Rifka Carmi is president of Ben-Gurion University in Southern Israel, which was shut down during the fighting.

“This is very frustrating that after so many years, we still endure this kind of difficulties in actually maintaining and preserving our normal life. However, this is our fate here in this country in general, and we cannot ignore the fact that we still are fighting for our lives here," he said.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the people of Southern Israel for remaining steadfast during eight days of Palestinian rocket attacks. He also thanked the police and home front command for a job well done during the Gaza war.

Netanyahu declared the Israeli offensive a success, saying Israel dealt a painful blow to Hamas, destroying thousands of rockets and killing many “terrorist commanders.”

Hamas is also declaring victory, and it says the ball is in Israel's court. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said that if Israel complies with the cease-fire, the Palestinians will also comply. If not, Meshaal said, "our hands are on the trigger."

Israel’s hands are also on the trigger. Netanyahu warned that if rocket attacks resume, Israel is prepared for a ground assault on Gaza.

So Israelis see the cease-fire as a reprieve, not a solution: They figure that it is just a matter of time before Hamas rearms for the next round of conflict.

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