by Rachel Ogbu
Shocking images released today show children in Gaza celebrating the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas with guns.
Thousands of people took to the streets following its announcement in Gaza last night. According to reports, there was a wild street celebration after the Egyptian-brokered truce ended the worst cross-border fighting in four years.
Residents in Gaza cleared the rubble and claimed victory in the coastal strip, calling for a new era in relations between Israel and Hamas. The two sides are now to negotiate a deal that would open the borders of the blockaded Palestinian territory.
‘Today is different, the morning coffee tastes different and I feel we are off to a new start,’ said Ashraf Diaa, a 38-year-old engineer from Gaza City.
The conflict erupted last week, when a resurgence in rocket fire from Gaza provoked Israel to strike back, killing Hamas’ military chief in an air attack and carrying out hundreds of assaults on militants’ underground rocket launchers and weapons stores.
The onslaught abruptly turned deadlier over the weekend as aircraft were ordered to go after Hamas military commanders and buildings suspected of housing their commands and weapons caches.
In the narrow alleys and warrens of crowded Gaza, where militants often operate from residential areas, civilian casualties mounted.
By Tuesday, civilians accounted for 54 of the 113 Palestinians killed since Operation Pillar of Defence began last Wednesday.
Some 840 people have been wounded, including 225 children, Gaza health officials said.