News / Middle East

Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Stripi
Scott Bobb
August 27, 2014 4:51 PM
Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Scott Bobb

As an open-ended cease-fire took effect beginning Tuesday night, ending seven weeks of hostilities, Palestinians celebrated in the streets of Gaza while Israelis showed more reserve.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri hailed the truce, negotiated by Egypt, as a victory for the Palestinian cause.

"We are here today to declare that we have won over this destructive Israeli power," Abu Zuhri said. "We won, first and foremost thanks to God almighty, and, second, thanks to the resilience of our people."

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The 50-day conflict was the longest ever between Israel and Hamas. The Gaza fighting killed at least 2,137 Palestinians, many of them civilians, as well as 69 Israelis. All but five of them were soldiers.  

Skepticism remains

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev blamed the high death toll on Hamas, the group that controls Gaza.

"We hope that this time the cease-fire will stick,” Regev said, referring to several previous cease-fire agreements that collapsed within days. “And I think now that, as the dust will begin to clear, many people will be asking, why is it that today Hamas accepted the very same Egyptian framework that it rejected a month ago?"

Some Israelis welcomed the end of hostilities, but those in communities hit hard by Hamas rockets remained wary.

 "I really want to trust the cease-fire, but unfortunately we've been burned before several times," said Dafna Siboni Sasson, who lives in Kibbutz Nir Am in the country’s south. "Several times we returned here and thought [the conflict] was over and all of a sudden it happened again and fire was renewed. So we wait. Time will tell."

Bigger negotiating points

Israel wants Gaza to be demilitarized. Any cease-fire should prevent Hamas from rebuilding its network of rockets and infiltration tunnels, said Yoram Schweitzer, an analyst at Tel Aviv’s Institute for National Security Studies.

Hamas "should be kept … from using this reconstruction, rehabilitation, for replenishing its rocket arsenal and for rebuilding those tunnels again," said Schweitzer, an Israeli.

Hamas wants an end to Israel's blockade of Gaza. This needs to be addressed, said Mukhaimar Abu Saada, a political science professor at Gaza’s al-Azhar University.

"If this siege is not going to be lifted completely, we are definitely going to witness another round between Hamas and Israel in the future," said the professor, a Palestinian.

Analysts noted that similar demands had not been met during previous cease-fires. As a result, they said any durable peace would depend primarily on a political agreement.

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Comment Sorting
by: John
August 29, 2014 1:51 AM
There can be no lasting peace without justice. I know this is often mindlessly repeated as a slogan, but it is the essential issue here. If the hawks in Israel continue to insist on the blockage, then the fighting will just start again as soon as the Palestinians re-arm. But if there is a genuine reconciliation, then and only then can there be a lasting peace.

by: Anthonybellchambers from: London
August 28, 2014 3:27 AM
Netanyahu proudly claims 'victory' for his butchery of civilians in Gaza

2,101 killed in Gaza - UN estimates 70% of deaths are civilians
7 civilians killed in Israel
64 Israeli soldiers killed
Figures as of 26 Aug. Sources: PMH, OCHA, IDF

UN states that more than 17,000 buildings in Gaza have been destroyed or severely damaged, and that there are at least 475,000 internally displaced people (IDPs), more than a quarter of the territory's population.

When will those responsible be brought before the ICC on charges of war crimes?
In Response

by: Jim Young from: Indian Valley
August 28, 2014 2:10 PM
The radical Islamist's will use this pause to rearm (probably by Iran) and then resume their goal of the destruction of Israel. I lived, taught and worked for years in the middle East, I met Many wonderful people, and some whose mindset was the total destruction of all Jew's.

A question to ponder is, If they destroy Israel, who then will become the focus their hate of anyone who is different. What a waste of life and assets for no tangible results.

by: maithe from: Paris, France
August 27, 2014 5:23 PM
Another cease fire or the end of the war ??....The Egyptian Agreement" solve nothing . No clear resolution.
But in one month Hamas, P.A., Israel and others go back to Cairo to discuss the real crucial problems : demilitarization of Gaza , blocus, a seaport, an airport... In one month or so we see if it was a serious cease fire or just another and longer break...
In Response

by: Manuel Montalvo from: Oviedo, fl.
August 28, 2014 9:43 PM
There will not be any peace until the inequities cease: The occupation and the crimes, abuses and subjugation of the Palestinian people by the Zionist expansionist Israel.

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