But the feelings of relief began to fade as the Palestinians faced a harsh reality; destruction across the Strip was vast and the road towards restoration was long.
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At least 163 Palestinians were killed and over 1,200 were injured. Many of the deceased were terror operatives but 40 of the victims were children who paid the cost of the conflict with their lives. According to The Telegraph, hospital and paramedic crews reported large numbers of amputations, mostly among women and the young.
The IDF said that during Operation Pillar of Defense the army had struck some 1,500 targets in Gaza, including some 30 top militants and several command centers. Hundreds of rocket launchers, 140 smuggling tunnels, 66 combat tunnels, 26 arms factories and caches and dozens of war rooms and Hamas posts were bombed as well.
The consequent damage to residential homes will run into hundreds of millions of dollars with shattered windows, collapsed walls and damaged roofs, The Telegraph reported. Hamas is unlikely to be able to generate the funds without foreign assistance.
Clearing the rubble (Photo: EPA)
The army took precautions to avoid harming civilians but a missile fired by an IAF aircraft earlier this week hit a residential home, killing 11 Palestinians, including eight members of one family. A Gaza woman told CNN that the two children who died in the attack were sleeping alongside their father when the house was pummeled. They were buried under the rubble. The 22-year-old mother said that she cannot believe her children were gone.
Another resident of the enclave, Naji Al Yasji, told The Telegraph his clothes shop in Gaza City had been closed for since the first day of the war.
Casualties in Gaza (Photo: AFP)
"This war has brought huge financial damage to Gaza and it will take a long time for us to recover. All the banks have been closed, the businesses have closed, the exchanges have run out of currency, the price of the dollar has soared," he said.
The bloody conflict took a heavy toll both in lives , funds and property but it also united the residents behind Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and his government. Yasji said he now trusts his leaders instead of blaming them for the enclave's woes.
Destruction in the Strip (Photo: EPA)
Due to the fighting, some 11,000 Gaza residents were forced to leave their houses and take shelter at UNRWA schools. They now face going back and rebuilding what is left of their homes.
The New Gaza Elementary School has been transformed into a refugee camp, and the school's principle, Yahia Zaquot, has found himself in charge of 1,800 people with trucks bringing in more families clutching bags of belongings, according to The Telegraph.
It may be a while before they leave – much will depend on whether they trust the ceasefire to hold.
Aftermath of strike (Photo: EPA)
Nevertheless, Wednesday's ceasefire announcement had set off frenzied late night street celebrations in the coastal strip, and raised hopes for a lull. Gaza authorities branded November 22 as a national holiday meant to celebrate the Palestinian groups' "victory." Residents were asked to visit those who were wounded and families of prisoners, and to demonstrate national unity.
The exiled leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, said on Wednesday that Israel had failed in its "adventure" when it launched attacks on Gaza and accepted Palestinian terms.
"It failed, praise be to God," Mashaal told a news conference in Cairo, adding that Israel had "failed in its adventure.
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