Hamas fighters claim Gaza victory as Netanyahu faces criticism at home
Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 01:49
Hamas fighters cheer and proclaim victory over the latest fighting with Israel, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes under fire over his leadership during the seven-week long conflict. Mana Rabiee reports.
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An open-ended ceasefire is holding in Gaza...after seven weeks of bitter fighting in which no clear winner emerged.
But for these Hamas fighters from the al-Gassam Brigades, victory was theirs -- if only in rhetoric.
(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SPOKESMAN OF AL-QASSAM BRIGADES, ABU OBAIDA, SAYING:
"Gaza has won as well as the people and the resistance, Gaza has won as it defeated the enemy at the border and force them to withdraw during the night out of Gaza."
The final tally, according to Palestinian health officials...1,139 Palestinians killed in fighting that started July 8;
most of them civilians...nearly 500 of those -- children.
Israel's death toll stands at 64 soldiers and 6 civilians.
The protracted war was the longest Israeli-Palestinian violence in a decade.
At home, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under fire over his leadership during the conflict.
(SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, SAYING:
"Have we reached our goal in achieving a long-term ceasefire? I think it is still too early to say. But I can say that we dealt a heavy blow to Hamas and terrorist groups."
Netanyahu said Israel's response to further attacks would be even more vigorous than the fighting that just ended.
But media commentators in Israel are echoing attacks by members of his own governing coalition and his opinion poll numbers have plummeted.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian-mediated ceasefire calls for the immediate opening of Gaza's crossing with Israel and Egypt, which had been under blockade.
A second stage of the truce would involve discussions to construct a Gaza seaport and the release of Hamas prisoners in the occupied West Bank.
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