Defense Minister Ehud Barak dismissed the victory celebrations in the Gaza Strip on Thursday. Speaking on Israeli television, Barak said that the Hamas government was deceiving their populace with fabricated achievements.
“They [Hamas] are deceiving their own people. They are celebrating the downing of an F-16 [which did not happen] and rockets that supposedly exploded in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. They know full well what has befallen them: The prime minister’s official residence is gone, their manufacturing infrastructure is gone, no heavy machinery, they now have less than 40 percent of the medium range rockets they once possessed, and a buried military chief,” Barak said, according to Israel Hayom.
With gunshots, sweets and cries of victory, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip poured into the streets to celebrate Wednesday’s cease-fire deal, which ended eight days of deadly fighting between Israel and Islamist terrorists.
After being stuck at home for days for fear of Israeli airstrikes, tens of thousands of Palestinians crowded into cars and doubled up on motorcycles, waving flags and chanting for Hamas.
The Egyptian-brokered cease-fire put an end to Israeli air raids, which bombed hundreds of Hamas targets, as well as to the firing of more than 2,000 rockets and mortar bombs by Hamas and other factions into Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Firing a deafening burst from his Kalashnikov rifle, one Gaza resident boasted, “(Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu will mourn tonight, while the people of Gaza are steadfast in their resistance and have triumphed. Israel won’t think of challenging us like this ever again. We paid a dear price in the blood of our people for their aggression, but we made great gains and showed our strength.”
Members of Hamas’ top political echelons, also forced to seek shelter during the raids because Israel had them in its sights, joined eagerly in the grandstanding.
“The resistance achieved a historic victory against the occupation and laid the foundation for the battle of liberation for all our land and sacred sites,” said senior Hamas official Ahmed Bahar.
Referring to Israel’s assassination of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari on Nov. 14, Hamas activists shouted through loudspeakers of Gaza mosques: “Jabari won, alive and dead.”
Gaza’s revelers seemed less concerned with the details of the truce and whether they thought Israel would keep its part of the bargain than with achieving what they saw as a symbolic victory.
“Imagine, the rockets of our resistance hitting Tel Aviv, hitting them and making them afraid everywhere they were. Nobody thought we could strike at them like this,” said Saleh Abu Khaled, sitting on the stoop of his apartment, his children frolicking around him in their pajamas.
“It doesn’t matter if they violate the truce; we’re ready to fight them again tomorrow. But we hope they learned a lesson this time,” he said, grinning widely.
The agreement calls on Hamas and Israel to cease all forms of military activity, including Israel’s targeted killings of terrorists, and for an easing of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza.
Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas government in Gaza, said: “We are satisfied and proud of this agreement and at the steadfastness of our people and their resistance.” Haniyeh said it was Egypt’s unwavering support and the Arab Spring that gave them the strength to emerge victorious. “Israel was defeated and now they know the rules have changed.”