Gazans celebrate 'victory'
One of the reasons it is so difficult to make peace in the Middle East is that much of the population - including governments - operate on a different plane of reality than the rest of us.
After getting pummelled for a week by Israeli planes and missiles, Gazans are celebrating a "victory" over the IDF. Most of their rockets were either shot down by the Iron Dome anti-missile system or fell harmlessly to earth. They lost several high ranking members of Hamas, and their means of hitting Israel with any kind of weapon was seriously degraded.
Despite the death and destruction, many were buoyant, echoing assertions of the Gaza Strip's Islamist Hamas rulers that their rocket salvoes, which reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for the first time, had trumped Israel's military might.
"Congratulations on your victory," passersby said as they shook hands with Hamas traffic policemen back on the streets after days in hiding to avoid Israeli bombs and missiles.
But joy mingled with grief as many Palestinians walked by wrecked houses and government buildings, glimpsing shredded clothing, ruined furniture and cars half-buried in the rubble.
Fighting ended late on Wednesday after the Hamas movement and Israel accepted a truce, although doubt abounded on both sides that this would be anything more than a pause in a deadly struggle between deeply distrustful adversaries.
Jubilant crowds celebrated in Gaza, most waving green Hamas flags, but hundreds with the yellow emblems of the rival Fatah group led by Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
"Today our unity materialized, Hamas and Fatah are one hand, one rifle and one rocket," senior Hamas leader Khalil Al-Hayya told several thousand people in the main square of Gaza.
Nabil Shaath, a senior Fatah figure, even shared the stage with leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other factions.
The striking images of reconciliation broke a prevailing pattern of bitterness since Hamas gunmen drove Fatah from the Gaza Strip in 2007, politically reinforcing the territory's physical separation from the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Abbas was sidelined in the Gaza crisis, taking no part in the indirect negotiations in Cairo that produced the truce.
But he called Hamas's Gaza chief and prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, to "congratulate him on the victory and extend condolences to the families of martyrs", Haniyeh's office said.
This does not bode well for the future:
This time, the spirit is different, with Hamas feeling it now has a genuine friend in Egypt's new Islamist leadership and winning de facto recognition as Arab dignitaries flocked to Gaza on solidarity visits during the fighting.
"Israel learnt a lesson it will never forget" said 51-year-old Khalil Al-Rass from Beach refugee camp in Gaza City. "We are the spearhead, we don't want anything from Arab countries, we only need weapons. We have achieved what no other country did."
The Hamas authorities declared Thursday a national holiday, keeping closed whatever government offices survived Israeli attacks that flattened the Interior Ministry, police stations and official buildings, along with many apartment blocks.
A Palestinian flag flew defiantly over Gaza City's police headquarters, bombed into a mess of broken masonry.
It is probable that the Obama administration will buy into the nonsense that Morsi is some kind of "partner for peace" when he actually tilted far in favor of his Muslim Brotherhood allies in Hamas. Morsi himself will see a rise in stature as a result of America esssentially browbeating Israel into accepting the cease fire. That, too, can't be a good thing.
This cease fire will hold only as long as Hamas decides it will. The next round probably won't take 3 years to materialize as this one did - not with Egypt and several Arab states now committed to a Hamas "victory."