(Page 2 of 4)
Israel and Hamas have been here before. In 2009, they pulled apart after a 22-day conflict and it took many months before Gaza militants felt strong enough to start firing rockets again out of their tiny, impoverished enclave.
At the time, ordinary Gazans resented Hamas, accusing it of instigating a devastating war and invasion that killed 1,400 Palestinians. Three years on, the mood was different and thousands took to the streets to celebrate the ceasefire.
After years of isolation, a succession of Arab VIPs rushed to the enclave to show their solidarity as Israeli warplanes were striking their targets, and the leaders of Hamas were treated with careful respect by Egypt - unthinkable in the days of the ousted president, Hosni Mubarak.
“Hamas is in a stronger position than ever,” said Gaza political analyst Talal Okal, adding that he too did not expect the truce to become a permanent fixture. “The Palestinians must not stop preparing themselves for another round,” he added.
Hamas refuses to recognise Israel’s right to exist and has scorned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for seeking a diplomatic solution.
The Western-backed Abbas, who holds sway in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, cut a lonely figure during the crisis, seeing Hamas’s credibility rise in the Arab world at his own expense.
In contrast with wild jubilation in Gaza, a few hundred residents in southern Israel took to the streets to denounce the deal, fearing that after a brief pause they would once more be the target of regular rocket attacks.
With a general election just two months away, the political consensus of the last week immediately evaporated and opposition figures swiftly laid into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not using the mighty army he had positioned on the Gaza borders.