— 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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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.
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.