In the last hours of the conflict, before a ceasefire was announced, Israelis were given an unfiltered glimpse of the situation in Gaza. The Channel Ten evening news broadcast had lined up another interview with Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Hebrew speaking doctor bunkered down in Gaza with his family and who had formerly worked at hospitals in Israel, he spoke regularly on Israel’s Channel Ten, but this time round he rang in a little early. Minutes earlier his house had come under Israeli fire, reports The Telegraph

“Oh God, my daughters have been killed,” he wailed down the phone, live on air.

The distraught doctor explained that three of his children had been killed in a tank strike and others were wounded.

“My girls were sitting at home planning their futures, talking, then suddenly they are being shelled … I want to know why they were killed, who gave the order?”

The shaken news reader held the phone aloft as the doctor explained what had happened, and related the information as the doctor wailed down the phone. Eventually he pulled his earpiece off to walk off set.

Israeli troops began withdrawing from the Gaza Strip on Sunday after Hamas declared a cease-fire, after a 22-day war. Gazans emerged after more than three weeks under bombardment to visit destroyed homes, pull the dead from the rubble and survey the devastation left by the Israeli offensive, reported The Chicago Tribune. The Israeli army said a “gradual withdrawal” of forces was under way, and Palestinians in Gaza said tanks and armored vehicles had left key positions where they had cut the Gaza Strip in two. The Gazan death toll in the campaign now stands at more than 1,300, at least half of them civilians, with thirteen Israelis killed in the conflict.

Meanwhile, international leaders gathered in Egypt to discuss the conflict.  The summit, in the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, was co-chaired by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has sought to broker an end to fighting with a truce plan, along with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, according to the BBC. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also attended, along with senior politicians from Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey and Jordan. The group have now flown to Israel for talks with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem. Here’s what the world had to say about the ceasefire:

Israel and Palestinians agree to Gaza ceasefire. Will it last? Inevitably, Hamas claimed that despite the devastation its fight with Israel has wreaked on Gaza, the best the Israelis could do was slow — but not stop — the barrage of rockets arcing out of Gaza. Hamas’ Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh claimed “a Popular victory” over Israel. Up until the last minute before Israel declared its cease-fire, Hamas was firing rockets. By declaring a unilateral ceasefire, Israel can argue that it is not legitimizing Hamas, which it considers to be a gang of terrorists. But even though a few of Hamas’ leaders have been killed, along with hundreds of its fighters, Israel cannot pretend that Hamas no longer exists. — Time

World leaders gather to push for lasting truce in Gaza. European leaders gathered in Jerusalem on Sunday evening as Israel sought help in converting a fragile pause in the fighting in Gaza into a blueprint for a more durable calm. Earlier Sunday, Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, and other militant groups announced an immediate, week-long cease-fire in the confrontation with Israel. The announcement came about 12 hours after a unilateral Israeli cease-fire went into effect, raising hopes that the 22-day war that killed about 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis had come to an end. Hamas and its associates gave Israeli troops a week to leave Gaza. Hamas leaders had previously said the group would continue fighting so long as Israeli forces remained in the territory. — International Herald Tribune

Haniyeh: Hamas won Gaza war, but was wise to declare truce. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Sunday that Israel’s three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip was a failure and had not cowed the Palestinians, but praised his movement for deciding to declare a cease-fire. “The enemy has failed to achieve its goals,” Ismail Haniyeh, the top Hamas leader in the territory, said in a speech broadcast on Hamas television. Though he called the war, in which more than 1,300 Gazans and 13 Israelis died, a “popular victory” for Palestinians, Haniyeh said Hamas’s decision to declare a truce on Sunday was “wise and responsible”. — Haaretz

Israel, Gaza, and what happens next. The Israelis don’t want to withdraw so quickly that it appears they’ve caved to international pressure. Nor do they want to leave before inflicting enough damage on Hamas to credibly call the operation a success. The Kadima-led government certainly wants to avoid the domestic handwringing and recriminations that followed the end of hostilities with Hizbullah in Lebanon in 2006. But Israeli troops will pull out soon enough, because national elections loom. — Foreign Policy

We expected Israel to act differently”. An Egyptian Foreign Ministry official expressed his country’s disappointment with Israel on Sunday for adopting a unilateral cease-fire that bypassed Egyptian mediation efforts to end Israel’s 23-day offensive against Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip. “We expected the Israeli side to behave in a different way,” ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki told The Jerusalem Post. “We expected Israel to respond positively to [Egypt’s cease-fire] initiative.” When Israel decided to go for a cease-fire, “it didn’t do so in consultation with Egypt, meaning that it did not choose to abide by the terms that we were able to negotiate with the Palestinians,” he said. — Jerusalem Post

Gaza voices: ‘People still afraid’. I am now speaking with you while walking on the street and, in order to hear you, I am putting my finger on the other ear in order not to hear the noise of the drones and the helicopters in the skies of Gaza. There was many artillery shelling, there was sporadic helicopter shooting, there was a clear attack on a certain area of the Gaza Strip. People are still afraid to return back to their homes after they have heard about the unilateral ceasefire because they know the Israelis may break this ceasefire easily and also because they are hearing the sporadic shelling of the helicopters and the artillery shellings. I am now walking in the streets alone. No one is walking. No one is going back to his home. No one is in the old area where I am living, it is empty. — Al Jazeera

Waiting. Today was the first day that medics and journalists were able to reach areas occupied by the invading Israeli troops. Palestinians by this point, by weeks ago, were desperate for any semblance of a normal life, though normality here is far from normality anywhere else. They were desperate to return to their homes, survey the damage and if possible repair it, find displaced family members, or their corpses, as well as neighbours, friends. Not everyone returned home to stay; many could be seen returning to where their homes were, or had stood, to retrieve anything worthwhile. Donkey carts and taxis were piled with blankets, clothes, cooking pots, cupboards, pieces of furniture, people.

I went straight to Ezbat Abed Rabbo, the area east of Jabaliya which had been cut off since day one of the ground invasion, over two weeks ago. The Red Crescent had been receiving calls to evacuate the injured and dead since day one, and were prevented, at gunpoint, by gunfire, from reaching those needing evacuation. We heard the cries of those who managed to escape, their stories of being locked in homes at gunpoint, losing family members to point-blank assassinations or house-bombings. — Eva Bartlett blogging at In Gaza

Day 23 of Israeli War On Gaza. Thousands of people appeared on the Gaza streets. Everybody is trying to explore what has happened to his relatives, houses and areas. I have documented a massive devastation throughout east, north and west of Gaza Strip. The devastation storms everything needed for normal life. Houses, schools, hospitals, clinics, police stations, charities, universities and streets totally and partially destroyed. More than 100 dead corps were found today by paramedics mostly civilians and a family of 8 members. Samouni family which was massacred before found 17 more dead bodies under the rubbles. Many families still seek rest of members and relatives who were lost during the war time. — Sameh Habeeb blogs at The Gaza Strip: The untold story

Peter Fray

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