Shattered showcases, broken laptops and scattered CDs — that’s what came to Ahmed Zaqout’s sight when he walked into his computer shop one day after the Hamas-Israeli cease-fire took effect in Gaza.
Like many Palestinians in the coastal enclave, Zaqout, 32, could finally come out of his home and check his workplace after eight days of heavy aerial bombardment by Israel.
On Wednesday, Israel and Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip reached a cease-fire agreement brokered by Egypt after the conflict had claimed the lives of 164 Gazans.
"My losses here are nothing compared to those who have lost their families," he said. "In two days, we will restart the business… This is Gaza where life doesn’t end."
The cease-fire brings life in Gaza back to normal — shops and restaurants opened and the streets, once occupied by ambulances and firefighter vehicles, are now full of people celebrating the cease-fire.
The Israeli airstrikes killed 164 Palestinians, including 43 children, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry. On the Israeli side, 6 were killed by rockets fired from Gaza.
Just across Omar al-Mukhtar Street where Zaqout’s store is located, a compound housing civilian offices of Hamas government was erased by Israeli F16 airplanes’ six bombs.
Ahmed Tal’at, 40, stared at the rubble and said "that’s a civilian place… we used to go there for IDs and birth certificates." He believed that Hamas will be able to resume the offices’ work though most of the premises have been damaged.
In Gaza City, people are busy cleaning the roads filled with rubble and fixing wires that were cut during the Israeli offensive.
The end of the Israeli operation also brought a scene that has been absent for years. For the first time since Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, supporters of rival Fatah movement headed by Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, took to the streets to celebrate the cease-fire.
Supporters of the two rivals gathered at the yard of the Palestinian Legislative Council, where Fatah’s yellow flags that had been mostly banned by Hamas fluttered alongside the green ones of Hamas.
"We should unite in one bunker and in one leadership," said Khalil Al-Hayya of Hamas while Nabil Shaath, a Fatah member, said "we should go out from this yard to the yard of unity."