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What, If Anything, Has Changed On The Ground For Either Side As A Result Of The War?

 
On Tuesday, after almost 7 weeks of conflict, Palestinian and Israel leaders agreed an open ended ceasefire brokered by the Egyptians

Rocket fire and air strikes had continued until the last moments right up to the 4pm deadline

Just minutes after the cease fire agreement was announced, thousands of Palestinians poured onto the streets of Gaza City to celebrate what was being touted as a victory. Mosques announced the victory over the loudspeakers.

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Night of Joy and Happiness

 

Denny Cormier, an American who has been living in Gaza for the past few months, talks about the scenes of joy and happiness in Gaza on Tuesday night in a Facebook status. He says it was “a night when thousands and thousands came to celebrate” and “the prayers filled Gaza and were the first reactions to the cease fire”

Rina Andolini, an International Aid Worker in Gaza throughout the conflict, posted pictures of a party held for the children of Gaza.

“We have mixed feelings. We are in pain for the losses but we are also proud we fought this war alone and we were not broken,” said Gaza teacher Ahmed Awf, 55, as he held his two-year-old son in his arms and joined in the street festivities.
Whatever tomorrow may bring; tonight was a time to rejoice as Gaza’s people celebrated the end of hostilities and the lifting of the 7 year siege.

 

The Telegraph posted this album showing the celebrations taking place: Gaza ceasefire in pictures: Palestinians celebrate truce between Hamas and Israel

Ceasefire

The cease fire brokered by the Egyptians is currently holding – an interim agreement in exchange for a period of calm.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, also confirmed that a ceasefire had been reached, saying that it was time to rebuild Gaza.

“An end to the killing will come at the same time as the entry of humanitarian, medical and building materials,” Abbas said.

The United States and United Nations urged both sides to comply with the terms of the agreement.

“We are all aware that this is an opportunity, not a certainty,” said US Secretary of State John Kerry. “We have been down this road before and we are all aware of the challenges ahead.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also welcomed the truce. But in a statement via his spokesman, Mr Ban warned that “any peace effort that does not tackle the root causes of the crisis will do little more than set the stage for the next cycle of violence”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced strong criticism in Israel over a costly conflict with Palestinian fighters in which no clear victor emerged

However, Hamas, though badly battered, is still claiming this as a “victory for the resistance” as they remain in control of Gaza.

At a press conference at the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said: “Hamas is grateful to the people of Gaza who sacrificed their homes, children and money. We announce the victory today after achieving our goals.”

He added: “[Israeli prime minister Binyamin] Netanyahu has failed to force Gaza to surrender. Yes, we defeated them by our standing and our resistance. We will stand by our people and we won’t leave them.”

The terms of the deal – brokered by the Egyptian government, and reached on the 50th day of the conflict – appeared to be almost identical to those agreed at the end of the previous war 21 months ago.

Under the terms that ended more than a week of fighting in 2012, Israel promised to ease restrictions gradually, while Hamas promised to halt rocket fire from Gaza at Israel.

The truce held, but Gaza’s border blockade remained largely intact.

Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade in 2007.

Under the restrictions, virtually all of Gaza’s 1.8 million people cannot trade or travel, and only a few thousand are able to leave the coastal territory every month.

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Deputy Head of Hamas’s Political Bureau Musa Abu Marzouk [Pictured above] explained the terms of the current ceasefire deal agreed between the Palestinian Resistance and the Israeli occupation.

He said the deal fully ended the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, halting all Israeli, American and EU restrictions on money transfers, included holding an international conference on the reconstruction of the Strip and stopping Israel’s tracking and assassination of Palestinian resistance fighters.

Abu Marzouk added that the deal is based on the understandings that ended the Israeli war against the Gaza Strip in 2012.

But this time, the Israeli occupation is to stick to opening the crossings for the entrance of humanitarian and relief aid, as well as all reconstruction materials.

Abu Marzouk added that the deal is based on the understandings that ended the Israeli war against the Gaza Strip in 2012. But this time, the Israeli occupation is to stick to opening the crossings for the entrance of humanitarian and relief aid, as well as all reconstruction materials.

The conditions of the truce

Both sides agreed to address more complex issues later with talks agreed to start in a month. Factions will discuss the construction of a seaport and airport in Gaza and the freeing of about 100 prisoners.

A US state department spokeswoman said: “We call on all parties to fully and completely comply with its terms, and hope very much that the ceasefire will prove to be durable and sustainable. We view this as an opportunity, not a certainty. There is a long road ahead and we’re aware of that, and we’re going into this eyes wide open.”

The deal follows at least eight temporary ceasefires during the course of the conflict.

Following are the immediate terms of what is in this Interim Gaza Peace deal between Israel & Hamas.

  • Both sides to end military action
  • Gaza Crossings – Only two out of the five Gaza crossings are presently functioning. The deal stipulates Israel’s commitment to opening the other three crossings. Regarding the Rafah Crossing, Abu Marzouk said there would be a Palestinian-Egyptian meeting to specify the demands for its full re-opening and called for this meeting to happen as soon as possible. Israel agrees to open more border crossings with Gaza to allow the easier flow of goods
  • Egypt to open its border with Gaza at Rafah
  • The Palestinian Authority (PA), which is headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, will take over operation of Gaza’s borders from Hamas – a bid to reduce weapons smuggling
  • The PA will lead the internationally funded reconstruction effort in Gaza
  • Israel to narrow the security buffer along the inside of the Gaza border, to allow Palestinians more access to farm land
  • Fishing and buffer zone – Israel will extend fishing limits off Gaza’s coast. The fishing zone is to be expanded to six nautical miles and to be gradually expanded to 12 miles at a later date, but before the end of this year.
  • Money transfers and Gaza employees – Israeli, American and European restrictions on money transfers into the Strip were lifted and the ball is now in the court of the Palestinian unity government to pay Gaza employees’ salaries.
  • Reconstruction of Gaza – Abu Marzouk explained that the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip would be discussed at a conference slated to be held next month in Egypt. Preparations for this conference are to start after inviting all the related parties to take part in the reconstruction process. The Palestinian unity government is to run the reconstruction dossier.

The Hamas official, who participated in the Palestinian delegation to the indirect talks in Cairo, said Egypt is the only guarantor for the deal, and that a new round of talks are to start within a month to discuss the other issues, like prisoners, the seaport and airport.

He said that the Israeli occupation would stop targeting senior Hamas commanders, and would allow them free movement throughout the Gaza Strip, stressing that this is the point that had postponed reaching a deal at an earlier stage.

What has Changed?

Now for the inevitable question: What, if anything, has changed on the ground for either side as a result of the war?

In Gaza, the war exacted a devastating price.

After 50 days of fighting, residents face billions of dollars of damage in Gaza.

Source: NBC News

It is impossible to find a Palestinian there who was untouched by the conflict. Families lost loved ones. Neighborhoods were completely destroyed. More than 100,000 people were displaced, according to the United Nations. Businesses, factories, shops and warehouses were demolished by Israeli bombs.

Gaza’s economy is in ruins.

More than 2,200 people have been killed – the vast majority of them Palestinian, more than 11,000 wounded and some 100,000 left homeless with some entire neighbourhoods destroyed.

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Aid workers warn that mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress, will haunt a generation of Palestinian children, some of whom have now lived through three wars in six years.

So an easing of the blockade will allow humanitarian aid and construction materials to be drip-fed into the Strip. It will most likely not revive the economy or restore livelihoods of families who lost everything.

Denny Cormier posted this on his Facebook timeline on Friday “As an outside observer – and on the ground supporter – let me observe that things are worse now than they were earlier in 2014 – certainly worse than just before the war.

Although we are still celebrating victory, the good people of Gaza are suffering.”

Seven weeks after the war started, the conflict stands where it began, except that now thousands of lives are in ruins.

While, each side claims to be the victor: The countdown until the next round of violence is already ticking.