Gaza, SAEDNEWS:The Gaza Strip experienced another sleepless night on Friday, but this time, it was not because of the intense Israeli bombardment that the besieged coastal territory was subjected to for the past 11 days.
Instead, tens of thousands poured into the streets, celebrating the ceasefire agreed upon by Israel and Palestinian armed groups, chanting in support of the resistance.
Mosques sounded the Eid al-Fitr prayers, a week after the holiday and sweets were passed around in a celebration that had been postponed by death and destruction. People also took the chance to visit those whose relatives had been killed.
The ceasefire celebrations extended to several cities within the occupied West Bank and Palestinian neighbourhoods in occupied East Jerusalem, with many praising the armed groups and the steadfastness of the Palestinians in Gaza.
According to Gaza’s health ministry, 248 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s latest offensive, including 66 children and 39 women. At least 1,910 others were wounded. More than 90,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homes, and much of Gaza’s infrastructure and many civilian buildings were badly damaged or completely levelled.
On the Israeli side, 12 people were killed, including three foreign workers.
The ceasefire, brokered by mediator Egypt, saw the “mutual and unconditional” cessation of hostilities between the Israeli army and Palestinian armed groups that began at 2am on Friday (23:00 GMT on Thursday).
No terms were officially given, and Israel’s security cabinet said it had voted unanimously in favour of a “mutual and unconditional” Gaza truce.
However, Hamas spokesperson Abdel-Latif al-Qanou told Al Jazeera the armed groups had imposed their own conditions.
He said they included an end to forced expulsions of Palestinian families in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah and to incursions by Israeli security forces into the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
“Israel has withdrawn in the face of the armed resistance, and did not obtain any of its objectives it said it would when it launched its offensive,” al-Qanou said.
For now, the ceasefire is holding, although Israeli forces raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Friday yet again, firing rubber-coated steel bullets and sound grenades.
“Israel is now being tested, and the resistance groups in Gaza are watching how it will react,” al-Qanou said.
“This ceasefire is but a pause, a chance to gain more strength to confront any further Israeli aggression.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed the offensive has dealt Hamas a “blow it cannot imagine”, going so far as to say it has “changed the equation” and set back Hamas for years.
Netanyahu said the Israeli military had destroyed Hamas’s tunnel network in Gaza, as well as many rocket factories and stores, and he claimed that more than 200 Palestinian fighters had been killed – including 25 senior figures.
However, many Israeli politicians slammed the ceasefire as a humiliating capitulation to Hamas.
New Hope party leader Gideon Sa’ar called the ceasefire “embarrassing,” and lamented that even “with the best intelligence and air force in the world, Netanyahu managed to get from Hamas a ‘ceasefire with no conditions’.”
Itamar Ben Gvir, a far-right member of Knesset, said, “the embarrassing ceasefire is a grave capitulation to terror and to Hamas’s impositions.”
Avigdor Lieberman, who quit his position as defence minister in 2018 after Israel agreed to an Egypt-mediated deal following two days of intense fighting in Gaza, called the ceasefire “another failure of Netanyahu” (Source: AlJazeera).