News / Middle East

    Gaza Residents Relieved on Day One of Cease-Fire

    Scott Bobb
    Residents of the Gaza Strip enjoyed their first peaceful night in a week after Israel and Palestinian militants agreed to a cease-fire.

    Cars were on the once-deserted streets. Mechanic Abdelkarim Adibediah opened his motor repair shop in the Beach refugee camp for the first time in eight days. He looked up from a motorcycle he was repairing to say he was relieved over the deal.

    "The cease-fire was in our interest," he said. "We have to get out and work to feed our children. But, it will take a long time for us to recover."

    More than 150 Palestinians and five Israelis died in the eight-day conflict. Hundreds more were wounded.

    The conflict choked daily life on both sides as schools, offices and shops were closed and people were told to stay indoors for their safety.

    At the small fishing port a few kilometers away, Mifleh Abu Riallah, 34, was unloading a catch of small, sardine-sized fish. He was able to put out to sea for the first time, though the catch was small. He said the Israeli navy still does not allow Gaza's fishermen to go beyond 2.5 nautical miles, or six kilometers, out to sea.

    He said 2.5 miles is for swimming, not for fishing. "This close to shore you can't catch big fish," Riallah added. He hopes the fishing range will be extended to 20 kilometers as it used to be under the ceasefire accord.

    Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas seized power five years ago. The blockade crippled Gaza's economy and decimated its fishing industry. Two-thirds of the fishermen have quit.

    The Israeli-Palestinian Cease-fire Deal

    • Israeli and Palestinian militants agree to end all hostilities.
    • For Israel that includes attacks by land, sea, and air, and operations targeting individuals.
    • For Palestinian factions in Gaza that includes rocket and border attacks.
    • After 24 hours, crossings into Gaza are to be opened and the movement of people and goods is to be allowed.

    Under the ceasefire agreement, Israel and Hamas are to negotiate an end to the blockade. Gazans hope this will end all fishing restrictions and reopen closed land border crossings.

    The blockade has also hurt agriculture. Gaza's farmers are prevented from working land within two kilometers of the border. This has effectively closed more than one-fourth of the territory's arable land to farming.

    Vegetable vendor Mahmoud al-Komi imports all his produce from Israel. If the blockade is lifted he would be able to bring produce from Egypt.

    He said it would make things cheaper. "Right now not everybody can afford these goods. If the blockade is lifted everybody will be able to buy these things," al-Komi noted.

    Israel says the blockade is meant to protect Israelis near the border from attacks and prevent arms smuggling. Palestinians say it is meant to punish Hamas, which does not recognize Israel and has called for its destruction.

    Waleed Shabeir, a professor of sociology at the Islamic University of Gaza, said it will take a long time for the people of Gaza to recover not just economically, but psychologically as well.

    They have to see a change out of the destruction and the killing. They have to see rebuilding because everything is changed from what it was during the conflict.

    Most Gazans want a return to normalcy, meaning a normal life like other people's. That will require further, perhaps more difficult steps by Israel and Hamas to end Gaza's economic and political isolation.

    • Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh waves to people as they celebrate what they say is a victory over Israel after an eight-day conflict, Gaza City, November 22, 2012.
    • Hamas militants carry the bodies of their comrades, who medics said were killed in Israeli air strikes on Wednesday, during their funeral in the central Gaza Strip, November 22, 2012.
    • Hassidic Jewish men from the Breslov sect dance near Kibbutz Yad Mordechai outside the northern Gaza Strip, November 22, 2012.
    • Israeli soldiers, atop a tank, prepare to leave their Gaza border position at sun rise, November 22, 2012.
    • Israeli soldiers rest at a staging area outside the northern Gaza Strip, Nov. 21, 2012.
    • After eight days of conflict Palestinian gunmen hold aloft an image of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jaabari, who was killed by an Israeli air strike, Gaza City, Nov. 21, 2012.
    • Palestinians celebrate the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, Gaza City, Nov. 21, 2012.
    • After eight days of conflict, Palestinians celebrate Israel-Hamas cease-fire, Gaza City, Nov. 21, 2012.

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    Comments
         
    by: musawi melake from: -
    November 22, 2012 4:57 PM
    Everything is done for the sake of saving the Jewish state, and the article writer is extremely biased in selecting people for the interview and the words chosen on the whole. For instance it is said "Israel blockaded Gaza five years ago after Hams seized power", this is complete mud-sling at the genuine democratic choice of the people of Gaza. If the statement is anything go by, one can easily say that George W. Bush seized power from his opponent in 2000 and the same could be true for Mr. Obama. If Israel can blockade another country just for the sake of it's own security, then it should be the case for the Russians to do so against Georgia, what kind of logic is this?

    by: David J. Allen from: Denver
    November 22, 2012 1:21 PM
    If one focus on the outcome to this conflict and unfolding of the ceasefire, the only side eager for the ceasefire were the Palestinians who celebrated it before even it was enforced….and who just came out first time for business and grocery after week long conflict were also Palestinians. They like peace as any other nation unless pushed to the middle ages which we see at the moment.

    US position at the moment is just acquiesce to its arm twister (remember how bibi and party tried to influence our elections by their propaganda machine) unless there is any understanding form Israel to follow US leadership in resolving this conflict once and for all.

    by: grassroot from: USA
    November 22, 2012 1:11 PM
    The Gazans' allowing Hamas to do the shooting that is.

    by: grassroot from: USA
    November 22, 2012 1:09 PM
    So it's all about the Gazan's. If, they weren't lobbing rockets into
    Israel all the last year, over 800 up to the point where Israel
    had to retaliate, They would have had respite all year.
    The enemies of Israel are hell bent on eradicating the Jewish
    state, push them into the sea, and will not allow them the right
    to live. These are indescriminate killers of any and all of the
    Jews due to racial and ethnic hatred. They know exactly
    what to do for " respite" from rockets. Stop initiating the
    attacks.

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