Amid parades of flags and political bombast, each of the strip’s militant factions hailed what they called a triumph for the Palestinian resistance and a new era for Palestinian unity.
But the separate public appearances by each militant group — rather than one unified rally — raised questions about the sturdiness of the cease-fire.
Hamas has struggled to control extremist offshoots within the coastal enclave, and it was unclear whether the new truce had rendered the group any more capable of preventing a breach by other groups that possess long-range rockets, including Islamic Jihad, which participated in the cease-fire negotiations in Cairo.
As the truce neared the 24-hour mark Thursday evening, many spoke with anticipation of the next “phase” of the agreement, in which Hamas plans to negotiate an end to Israel’s blockade of the strip and wider mobility for Palestinians in the border zone, where Israel maintains its right to shoot those who come within one mile.
Some Palestinians, including militants and top government officials, warned that Israel, which labels Hamas a terrorist organization, might back down from the secondary clauses of the cease-fire deal.
“If they respect it, we’ll respect it,” said Ghazi Hamad, a Hamas spokesman. But he expressed doubt that Israel would stick to its word.
“I am doubtful about the implementation of this plan,” he said. And if the other terms of the truce are not implemented, the agreement will be “open” for Hamas to violate, he said.
The Israeli military issued a statement Wednesday night outlining the damage it inflicted on Hamas’s military and civilian infrastructure during the eight-day assault.
Its planes and warships struck 1,500 sites, including 19 that the military identified as “senior command centers, operational command control centers and Hamas senior-rank headquarters.” It blasted more than 200 smuggling tunnels and 26 weapons storage and manufacturing facilities, the military said.
But a senior Israeli military official said the crackdown did not come close to a military defeat. “They still have significant capabilities to continue this campaign again from a military point of view,” he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The Hamas-Iran link
The specter of support to Palestinian militants from Iran also loomed Thursday, as Hamas and Islamic Jihad thanked Iran for supplying them with weapons.
Relations between Hamas and Iran appeared to have frayed this year when Hamas cut ties to Syria, another Iranian ally. But the statements of gratitude on Thursday, as well as reciprocal remarks from Tehran, signaled that the alliance could be on the mend.