Gaza starts to rebuild from rubble

An Israeli official said Hamas had gained little from the conflict, which has left vast tracts of Gaza in ruins.
An Israeli official said Hamas had gained little from the conflict, which has left vast tracts of Gaza in ruins.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — An open-ended cease-fire between Hamas and Israel was holding Wednesday after seven weeks of warfare that killed more than 2,200 people.

The Israeli military said early Wednesday there had been no reports of violations since the cease-fire with Gaza went into effect Tuesday evening. The army later said it responded to fire from across the border with Syria after an officer was injured earlier in the day.

In the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, people were out en masse, and electricity crews were trying to restore power and repair transmission lines. Residents in the hardest-hit districts were using shovels and their bare hands to clear paths through the rubble to their homes.


United Nations assessment teams began to do field reporting to match their satellite images of the destruction.

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

‘‘Gaza had 50 percent unemployment before,’’ said Frode Mauring, special representative of the administrator of the UN Development Program, as he stood in front of a leveled yogurt factory. ‘‘Imagine what it is now.’’

He said the challenge will be not just to return Gaza to its status July 7 before the war began but to open it up to the world. ‘‘The root cause’’ of the conflict ‘‘is that Gaza is not a livable place,’’ Mauring said in an interview. ‘‘There’s no trade, no way to build a viable economy.’’ He estimated the strip’s losses at about $4.2 billion.

Hamas on Wednesday put its traffic cops back on the streets, where they were joined by what was called military police in green uniforms and red berets carrying rifles.

Ali Musabeh was clearing rubble from his family’s home to make a space in the one room left for them to sleep. He was anxious for the truce to hold.


‘‘A cease-fire is not a victory,’’ he said.

Musabeh, like most people in Gaza, quickly learned that the truce deal struck in Cairo on Tuesday was not better for Palestinians than an Egyptian proposal after the first week of the war.

‘‘What good has come of this?’’ asked his mother, Naima Musabeh. ‘‘They’ve destroyed us. We are displaced people. We got nothing from this suffering.’’

After the cease-fire took hold Tuesday evening, Palestinians poured into the streets of the ravaged Gaza Strip to celebrate.

‘‘We have won,’’ Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri exulted at a news conference in front of Shifa Hospital. The Palestinian Islamist group’s fighters accomplished ‘‘what no Arab army has done,’’ he said. ‘‘We have defeated them.’’


His exuberance aside, officials from Hamas and another Gaza-based militant group, Islamic Jihad, said the cease-fire agreement essentially brings Israel and Palestinians back to terms agreed upon in the truce signed after the 2012 Gaza war.

A senior official in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, speaking about the latest cease-fire on the condition of anonymity, said Hamas had gained little, if anything, from the conflict, which has left vast tracts of Gaza in ruins.

‘‘Hamas is now finally accepting a cease-fire proposal that was first proposed by Egypt on July 15,’’ the official said. ‘‘There is nothing more to the proposal than there was a month and a half ago.’’

Under the deal, Israel will immediately ease restrictions on Gaza and allow aid and construction materials to enter the coastal enclave. The deal will also allow Gaza fishermen to venture 6 miles offshore; until now, they were restricted to 3 miles.

Other demands by the Palestinians — building a seaport and an airport, opening all border crossings, and improving the movement of goods and people — are set to be discussed in Cairo. Israel also will press its demand that Gaza be demilitarized.

US Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed the deal and urged the two sides to ‘‘fully and completely comply with its terms.’’