GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A week of Israeli bombardment has pulverized government buildings and militant weapons stores, and left 161 Palestinians dead. But the Gaza Strip’s Hamas leadership has emerged stronger than ever, Palestinians in Gaza said Thursday.
Hamas, along with the masked fighters of other Gaza militant groups, held boisterous victory rallies across the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the day after an Egypt-brokered cease-fire with Israel went into effect.
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 — also 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 this newest truce had rendered the group any more capable of preventing a breach by other groups in possession of 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 of the possibility that Israel, which labels Hamas a terrorist organization, might back down from the secondary clauses of the cease-fire deal.