Last night’s ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is being observed on both sides and has been welcomed across the world.
The tems of the ceasefire, which looks to be holding, are: Israel to end all hostilities on Gaza Strip by sea, land and air, including incursions and the targeting of individuals; all Palestinian factions in Gaza to stop all hostilities against Israel, including rocket and border attacks; from 7:00pm tonight, Gaza Strip crossings will be opened allowing free movement of people and goods; and Egypt will receive assurances from both sides they will abide by the deal, following up any reports it has has been broken.
But what has the reaction of Israeli and Arab media been?
In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinians celebrated the signing of the truce agreement as “the taste of victory”, Al Arabiya reports (translated):
Following entry into force of the truce in different areas in the Gaza Strip there were celebrations in the mosques and cheers to celebrate the victory of the resistance, and they distributed sweets.
As some marched to celebrate the victory of the resistance, and called on the Hamas leadership all her children not to fire in the air, and swept marches and fireworks and joy throughout the West Bank after the victory of the resistance.
While Al Quds reports someone was killed by celebratory fire (translated):
Masses of citizens in the Gaza Strip took to the streets and started shooting in the air yesterday, after the announcement of the completion of the truce between Palestinian resistance factions and the Israeli occupation.
A citizen was killed, and three wounded in Gaza by firing indiscriminately in the air to celebrate the ceasefire agreement. The Ministry of Health appealed for “citizens in the Gaza Strip not to fire in the air to celebrate the victory”.
The Jerusalem Post reports the IDF’s belief Hamas and Islamic Jihad will honour the ceasefire:
Masses of citizens in the Gaza Strip took to the streets and started shooting in the air yesterday, after the announcement of the completion of the truce between Palestinian resistance factions and the Israeli occupation…
The IDF believes that contrary to the triumphalist public stance of Hamas, the Gaza regime is privately shocked by the level of damage it sustained. The ceasefire, Barak said, “could last nine months, it could last nine weeks,” and when it stops working, Israel will know how to react.
The IDF source also cautioned, “We will follow all developments in Gaza, and we must be prepared for ‘days of rage’ that could be held on Friday in Gaza and the West Bank after prayers.”
The IDF remains on standby for any ceasefire violations, but is set to gradually disband the ground forces on the border with the Strip. “Any attacks will result in immediate responses,” the source warned.
Haaretz notes the ceasefire “could have come earlier” – Bibi Netanyahu and Ehud Barak “will find it difficult to explain why the right moment for a ceasefire was missed,” the paper says, “before the last and sharpest memory of the week of Operation Pillar of Defense became the memory of the bus on Shaul Hamelekh Street” – adding “only time will tell who won this round”.
And looking at “what comes next?”, Haaretz says Israel must “learn the lessons of the recent conflict and act on the diplomatic front before the situation deteriorates even further”, concluding:
As long as there is not a serious effort to move the peace process forward, chronic conflict will continue to bedevil the parties in the Middle East. Status quos are not static, and temporary calm doesn’t stay that way for long. Only strong and sustained diplomacy can possibly translate this chronic condition into the possibility of a peaceful, long-term understanding.
It’s time to push back against those who believe a comfortable status quo exists and can be maintained – it doesn’t exist, and the situation keeps deteriorating. Why, then, not give peace a chance?
And here in the UK, the urgent need to make this peace permanent is graphically, heartbreakingly illustrated by the BBC’s Wyre Davies:
Most Gazans I have met over the last week will be relieved that the constant, overwhelming Israeli aerial bombardment has ended and there will be, for now, no ground invasion.
You can feel the palpable lifting of that burden among Gazan colleagues. This is such a small densely populated stretch of land that few areas have escaped the impact – direct or indirect – of Israeli bombing in recent days.
In the BBC Gaza office, that feeling was most tangibly felt on the first day of this conflict when Omar, the 11-month-old son of our cameraman Jihad Misharawi, was killed when a missile hit his home. It was a pointless, terrible tragedy that deeply affected Jihad’s colleagues who live and work here in these testing conditions.
What has shocked me most over the last eight days – during which I have reported exclusively from Gaza, with BBC colleagues complementing in Israel – is the appallingly high number of children killed and injured.
I saw four children under the age of 10 buried amid the rubble of a house when it was hit by a huge Israeli missile. Israel initially acknowledged making a mistake, but later clarified its position, saying it meant to hit the house, but that its intended target – a senior Hamas commander – was not there. The four children and several other civilians were there and were killed.
The ceasefire simply must hold, Palestinians, Israelis, young, old, men, women, boys, girls, cannot continue to die and die and die; as JFK said, we all inhabit this small planet, we all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children‘s futures – and we are all mortal.