Peace returns to Gaza for now as Israel-Hamas ceasefire holds for 2nd day

For the first time after almost a month of ear-jarring sound of warplanes and missiles, people in Israel and Gaza witnessed peace as a ceasefire agreed by Israel and Hamas held for more than 22 hours and counting.

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Gaza City: After almost a month of ear-jarring sound of warplanes and missiles, people in Israel and Gaza witnessed serenity as a ceasefire agreed by Israel and Hamas entered second day.

The truce paved the way for delegations from both sides to hold further talks for a longer-lasting ceasefire deal in Cairo.

Representatives from Israel, Hamas and Islamic Jihad were reportedly dispatched to cairo to participate in negotiations for a longer-term ceasefire.

Israel`s decision cam after PM Benjamin Netanyahu`s security cabinet met late on Tuesday to discuss the next strategy for Cairo truce talks.

The conditions for a longer term ceasefire are precisely known as Palestinians demand ending the blockade of the territory and the opening of border crossings, while Israel would focus on demilitarisation of Gaza.

However, Hamas may not agree to demilitarisation as a senior official told a news agency that they would "take the life of anyone who tries to take the weapons of resistance".

As the 72-hour ceasefire appeared to hold, tens of thousands of Gaza residents who were displaced due to heavy shelling from Israel, began returning back from the UN shelters, only to find their homes and businesses in ruins. 

"I never thought I would come back to find an earthquake zone," the NBC news quoted one of the Gazans as saying. 

However, many are still sheltered in UN camps, fearing that the truce might break anytime.

Speaking about the massive scale of destruction, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Al-Aqsa television, "After the cease-fire agreement took effect, the world will now see the level of destruction which should serve as an evidence of the level of crimes of the enemy," reported the CNN.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki yesterday met prosecutors at the International Criminal Court, saying there was "clear evidence" that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza, the AFP reported.

However, the Palestinian Foreign Minister sounded optimistic about the latest ceasefire in Gaza, saying it will hold.

The damage cost incurred to the Palestinian territory in almost a month of fighting was pegged at $4-6 billion by Deputy Economy Minister Taysir Amro, as per an AFP news report.

Meanwhile, speaking to the BBC, US Secretary of State John Kerry has suggested that both sides should cash in on the peaceful pause and use it to negotiate "bigger, broader approach to the underlying solution of two states" that would provide security for Israel and "a better life and greater freedoms for the Palestinians".

"I believe that the situation now that has evolved will concentrate people`s minds on the need to get back to the negotiations and try and resolve the issues of the two states," added Kerry.

The latest ceasefire, based on the Egyptian-proposed draft which came into effect at 8:00 am (local time) was discussed by Palestinian factions in Cairo on Monday.

Also, Israeli troops withdrew completely from Gaza Strip claiming that they had destroyed all the tunnels.

Israel says since July 8, when it launched Operation Protective Edge, Hamas has fired more than 3000 rockets at Israel.

According to Gazan Health Ministry, nearly 1900 Palestinians were killed in 28 days of Israel`s Operation Protective Edge, which also killed 67 Israelis.

At the heart of the recent Israel-Gaza conflict was the abduction and kidnapping of three Israeli teens followed by revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager.

The death of the Palestinian sparked a lot of protests and an increased salvo of firing from Hamas, triggering the Israeli operation.