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Gaza Cease-Fire Holds Amid Signs of Normalcy

  • Robert Berger

A Palestinian school girl in a Khan Younis school, November 15, 2012, sits next to the chair of a classmate who was killed during an Israeli air strike.
A cease-fire that ended eight-days of fighting between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip is now in its fifth day.

Schools in southern Israel reopened Sunday after a 10-day closure brought on by Palestinian rocket attacks from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Parents were relieved.

“I’m very glad that my children finally can go back to school and start the routine," said a parent. "Routine is very good and it’s very important for our children.”

Israeli students were glad to get back, saying school is better than a vacation spent in bomb shelters.

It was a similar scene in Gaza on Saturday.

Tens of thousands of Palestinian children returned to school, after sheltering at home during massive Israeli air strikes.

Under the terms of the truce, Israel is also easing border restrictions on Gaza.

Palestinian fishing boats sailed 10 kilometers out to sea, double the previous limit which Israel says it imposed to prevent weapons smuggling. Palestinians say fishing is better in deeper water.

Gaza farmers were also allowed to visit land near the Israeli border fence, in what was previously a closed military zone.

​Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Haya proclaimed victory, saying Palestinians have reclaimed some of their territory from the Israelis, by land and by sea.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he has no problem with allowing Palestinian farmers and fisherman to earn an honest living.

He said that as long as Palestinian civilians are not used as cover for Hamas attacks, Israel will uphold the cease-fire.

The cease-fire also got a boost from a senior Islamic cleric in Gaza who warned armed Palestinian groups that violating it is a "sin." The cleric, Suleiman al-Daya, issued a fatwa, or edict, which said that honoring the cease-fire is a religious duty for everyone.