Thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip celebrated a long-term ceasefire deal, agreed to between Hamas and Israel, that put an end to seven weeks of fighting that claimed the lives of 2,143 Palestinians in the besieged Palestinian enclave.
Hamas’ exiled deputy leader, Moussa Abu Marzouk, said the agreement was a “victory for the [Palestinian] resistance”.
Meanwhile, Ofir Gendelman, an Israeli prime minister’s office spokesman, said the operations in Gaza were a victory for Israel. “Hamas gave in and accepted the same Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire it rejected until now,” Gendelman said.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told Al Jazeera that the bloodshed could have been “avoided” if Hamas had accepted the July 15 ceasefire agreement.
Under the ceasefire deal, Israel will ease restrictions on the entry of goods, humanitarian aid and construction materials into Gaza, and expand the offshore area open to Palestinian fishermen to six nautical miles.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hailed the agreement as a chance to “build a new nation and end the occupation”, before thanking Egypt, Qatar and the US for their roles in brokering the agreement made during indirect talks in Cairo.
Speaking to AFP news agency, Palestinians in Gaza said they were optimistic that the current ceasefire would last and allow Gaza to re-build. “We were able to sleep,” said Alaa al-Jaro in Gaza City. “We had the best sleep ever after the Israeli aggression ended.”
“A ceasefire has been signed, and this time it should last, not like before,” 16-year-old Raed Alaa Habeb from Gaza City’s battered Shujayea neighbourhood told AFP. “We trust in this ceasefire.”