RAFAH, Gaza Strip – As the truce between Israel and Hamas appeared to be enduring through its first 24 hours, Gazans spent Thursday sweeping up, digging out and looking forward.
Hamas declared a public holiday, but most shops and many businesses opened their doors. Israeli warships were replaced on the horizon with Palestinian fishing boats for the first time in a week.
Having endured many conflicts, it’s a day-after drill Gazans know well. Residents who sought shelter in United Nations schools went home. A steady stream of families returning from Egypt arrived at the Rafah border crossing. Bulldozers tried to clear alternate roads around bombed-out bridges.
Glass shop owner Kamal Habboush, 45, had seven walk-in customers by lunchtime to replace broken windows. Usually he’s lucky to have one.
But after 16 years in the business, he predicts the real rush won’t come for a few more days.
“People tend to wait to make sure the fighting is really over,’’ he said. “Just in case.”
The eight-day conflict left at least 162 Palestinians and six Israelis dead. The Israeli military reported the sixth death Thursday, saying a soldier had died from injuries sustained in a rocket attack by Gazan militants, the Associated Press reported.