22 Nov 2012

Gaza: it’s not an accord, it’s not peace. It’s a ceasefire

Upon waking and drawing back the curtains, some pointers to peace are clear.

You hear the birds – there are no drones. And a new sound to me, another engine, coming clear in to land across the still Mediterranean: fishing boats. They’re out, safe to leave harbour, no Israeli gunboats.

The UN school, overcrowded yesterday with 1,800 Gazans fleeing the bombardment to the north, is today almost empty. A few sweepers at work clearing up in the dusty playground

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Bazaars are reopening or repairing the damage and sometimes doing both, under the gaze of government officials and police now at street corners in uniform.

And the boys are back in town – Hamas fighters, green fatigues, Kalashnikovs and black balaclava faces, emerging from bunkers, tunnels or civilian flats for the first time in more than a week.

Up north – which in the Gaza Strip means a car ride of about 15 minutes if that – all is well for Sabah:

“I’m just shaking all over,” she says as she greets us again in Attatra. “You cannot imagine my joy.”

Less than 24 hours ago we’d filmed her and little Awadh (above right) as they took refuge from the bombing in the UN school in Gaza City.

Now he’s home. He smiles, his flitting unfocused gaze transformed since yesterday when he sat, alone, banging his head on a school desk.

He suffers a serious mental disability, but now on the doorstep of home his brother Mahmoud has an arm round him. Cousin Ihab is gently shelling peanuts and offering them

He is at home again, and at peace.

But all around profound suspicion and scepticism at whether the “peace” can last.

Hamas leaders saying as much today whist calling the people onto the streets in celebration.

They know they can hit Tel Aviv. They know they can function despite losing military leaders.

Equally Israel knows its missile shield is pretty effective for now. It knows it has inflicted a degree of damage.

But everything that was in place to begin the fighting remains there. And Gaza, its government and people remain in the open mass prison of the blockade.

Winners? Look elsewhere, to Cairo and the Boys from the Brotherhood, who’ve been the key brokers in the ceasefire.

But don’t examine the goods too closely or read the fine print.

It’s not an accord.

It’s not peace.

It’s a ceasefire. And many here say a temporary one as things stand.

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