Gaza Conflict Unites Some Palestinians Behind Hamas



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Residents of Gaza have welcomed the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that came into effect on Wednesday. The agreement, brokered by the Egyptian government with the help of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, brought an end to eight days of fighting that left more than 140 Palestinians and five Israelis dead. Hamas has welcomed the ceasefire, saying the group had achieved its objectives.

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ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: I'm Anthony Kuhn in Gaza City. Just before the cease fire took effect, the streets were silent and deserted. War-weary Gazans know that this is the time the combatants take their parting shots just before they let their guns go silent. At the Al-Sheefa Hospital(ph), Dr. Ashraf al-Kidrah(ph), a health ministry spokesman, says that the news of the cease fire brings forth mixed emotions.

ASHRAF AL-KIDRAH: (Through translator) I'm very happy, but I'm still scared because I'm afraid Israelis will not honor the cease fire. The Israeli planes are still everywhere over Gaza. They have targeted some civilians, even though they know that there will be a cease fire.

KUHN: He says another 17 Palestinians were killed just this afternoon. As the cease fire took effect, the streets erupted in celebration, with some crying, bomb Tel Aviv, bomb Tel Aviv. Dr. Ahmed Yosef(ph) is a Hamas leader and former political advisor to Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Speaking just before the truce came into effect, he said that the conflict has united Palestinians behind Hamas, both in Gaza and the West Bank.

AHMED YOSEF: We are Palestinian. We are all targeted and this is what the Israeli tried to do, it's all-out war against the Palestinians, not just about Hamas alone.

KUHN: He adds that Arab and Muslim nations have rallied to the Palestinian cause and given Palestinians a new spirit.

YOSEF: And with the support and backing from the Arabic state and Arab regime, I think we will be capable to continue defending ourselves and making the Israelis actually to be a big reprise if they continue on their policy of assassination and occupation.

KUHN: Yosef says the cease fire negotiations were difficult because both sides didn't just want a truce, they wanted to completely change the status quo. But it's not yet clear from the terms of the agreement that that is what they got. Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Gaza City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.