- Shocking images emerge of children on streets of Gaza and West Bank
- It comes as Israeli soldiers shoot dead Palestinian man
- Thousands take to streets armed with array of guns to toast ‘victory’
- It came after peace between Israel and Hamas was announced in Cairo
By Leon Watson
PUBLISHED: 03:56 EST, 23 November 2012 | UPDATED: 15:42 EST, 23 November 2012
Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian man and wounded up to 20 others along Gaza’s border fence with Israel today as shocking images emerged of children celebrating the ceasefire with guns.
A Gaza health official reported the first violence since the truce between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers took hold a day before.
The shooting appeared to be an isolated incident and was unlikely to jeopardise the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire, which called for an end to Gaza rocket fire on Israel and Israeli airstrikes on Gaza.
Earlier, pictures emerged of how gun-toting children in Gaza and the West Bank celebrated the tentative ceasefire when thousands of people took to the streets following its announcement.
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The boys, some of whom look as young as six, were seen brandishing automatic weapons, handguns and AK47 assault rifles.
In the West Bank city of Hebron a youngster was pictured joining Hamas supporters waving a automatic weapon during a pro-Hamas rally.
But it appeared the truce was not a pleasing outcome to a group of battle-hungry Israeli soldiers which wanted to carry on the fighting and invade the Gaza Strip.
To spell out their frustration, 16 Israeli Defence Force soldiers arranged their uniformed bodies on the ground, to spell out the Hebrew words ‘Bibi loser’ in an angry reference to Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu.
The photo has now gone viral causing the IDF to investigate – a spokesperson said it frowned upon soldiers expressing political opinions while in uniform.
While there have been calls for the soldiers in the photo to be court-martialled, others have agreed with their frustration after IDF were instructed to prepare for battle and then told to stand down, reported the Times of Israel.
The top cleric from Egypt’s fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood also denounced peace efforts with Israel, urging ‘holy war’ to liberate Palestinian territories.
The call by Mohammed Badei came just a day after Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who also hails from the Brotherhood, succeeded in brokering a truce to end eight days of Israel-Hamas fighting.
Badei said ‘jihad is obligatory’ for Muslims and that peace deals with Israel are a ‘game of grand deception.’ He says there’s been enough negotiations, the ‘enemy knows nothing but language of force’.
The Brotherhood and its members don’t recognize Israel and refuse to hold direct talks with Israelis.
But it was a difference scene in Gaza on Thursday night as wild street celebrations broke out after the Egyptian-brokered truce ended the worst cross-border fighting in four years.
Gaza residents cleared rubble and claimed victory in the coastal strip, calling for a new era in relations between Israel and Hamas. The two sides are now to negotiate a deal that would open the borders of the blockaded Palestinian territory.
‘Today is different, the morning coffee tastes different and I feel we are off to a new start,’ said Ashraf Diaa, a 38-year-old engineer from Gaza City.
However, the vague language in the agreement and deep hostility between the combatants made it far from certain that the bloodshed would end.
The diplomatic breakthrough came hours after a Hamas bomb exploded on a bus in Tel Aviv leaving 21 injured, which prompted an intensive bombardment of Gaza by Israel.
Firing continued until the moment that guns fell silent at 7pm British time, following more than two days of intense U.S. and international pressure and shuttle diplomacy by Hillary Clinton.
The peace was announced in Cairo by the U.S. Secretary of State and Egyptian foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr. Mrs Clinton said: ‘This is a critical moment for the region. The people of this region deserve the chance to live free of fear and violence.’
Relieved crowds poured into the streets of Gaza when they heard the announcement, making peace signs, clapping, chanting, and waving flags.
But there were already fears last night about how long the truce may hold. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country would ‘not accept’ its enemies arming themselves and added that more ‘forceful action’ might be necessary.
Foreign Secretary William Hague welcomed the news. He said the ceasefire was ‘an important step towards a lasting peace’.
As well as the truce there was also an agreement to end the blockade of Gaza and allow more crossing in and out of the narrow Palestinian enclave.
A ceasefire seemed unlikely on Wednesday afternoon after a bomb exploded on a bus in Tel Aviv, injuring at least 21 in what officials called a ‘terrorist attack’. Hamas claimed responsibility for the blast, the first bombing in the city for six years.
Police believe the device was placed in the bus by a passenger who escaped before it exploded around noon on one of the coastal city’s busiest arteries.
Broker: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Mrs Clinton made the visit to broker the peace deal
The bombing came after a night of Israeli air strikes over Gaza on Wednesday that hit government ministries, smuggling tunnels and a Hamas-linked media office.
In response to the bus attack, Israel struck more than 100 targets, including a cluster of Hamas government buildings. Officials said a two-year-old boy was among the dead.
Mr Netanyahu spoke to President Obama before the ceasefire.
‘The president expressed his appreciation for the Prime Minister’s efforts to work with the new Egyptian government to achieve a sustainable ceasefire and a more durable solution to this problem,’ a White House statement said.
Obama reiterated his commitment to Israel’s security and also said he was committed to seeking funds for joint missile defense programs.
Mrs Clinton said: ‘Now we have to focus on reaching a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security, dignity and legitimate aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis alike.’
Earlier Israel’s best-selling Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper had reported an emerging outline of a ceasefire agreement that called for Egypt to announce a 72-hour ceasefire followed by further talks on long-term understandings.
Under the proposed document, which the newspaper said neither party would be required to sign, Israel would hold its fire, end attacks against top militants and promise to examine ways to ease its blockade of Gaza, controlled by Hamas Islamists who do not recognise the Jewish state’s right to exist.
Hamas, the report said, would pledge not to strike any Israeli target and ensure other Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip also stop their attacks.
Israel has carried out more than 1,500 strikes since the offensive began with the killing of a top Hamas commander and with the declared aim of deterring Hamas from launching rocket attacks that have long disrupted life in its southern towns.
Medical officials in Gaza said 146 Palestinians, more than half of them civilians, including 36 children, have been killed in Israel’s offensive. Nearly 1,400 rockets have been fired into Israel, killing four civilians and a soldier, the military said.
Meanwhile, a UN aid agency said some 10,000 Gazans have sought shelter in UN-run schools after the Israeli military dropped leaflets on the territory warning residents of certain areas to evacuate their homes.
Adnan Abu Hassna, spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency, said that 12 schools are providing shelter.
He says the influx began on Wednesday evening, after Israel dropped the leaflets over Gaza. The Israeli military has not given a reason for the warning, but many feared it was the prelude to a possible ground offensive.
UN compounds are seen as safer than ordinary homes, though some were also hit in 2009.
Speaking alongside Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mrs Clinton had promised to work with Israel ‘toward an outcome that bolsters security for the people of Israel, improves conditions for the people of Gaza, and moves toward a comprehensive peace for all people of the region.’
Mrs Clinton has indicated it could take some time to iron out an agreement after more than a week of bitter fighting.
One of the buildings targeted by Israel was a Hamas-linked media office located two floors above the office of the French news agency, Agence France-Presse.
‘I grabbed my cameras and left the office with the fixer and there was smoke in the hallways… We ran out of the building,’ one AFP photographer told Al Jazeera.
Scenes from the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip shows Israeli artillery flares illuminating the Palestinian coastal enclave
The conflict erupted last week, when a resurgence in rocket fire from Gaza provoked Israel to strike back, killing Hamas’ military chief in an air attack and carrying out hundreds of assaults on militants’ underground rocket launchers and weapons stores.
The onslaught abruptly turned deadlier over the weekend as aircraft were ordered to go after Hamas military commanders and buildings suspected of housing their commands and weapons caches.
In the narrow alleys and warrens of crowded Gaza, where militants often operate from residential areas, civilian casualties mounted.
By Tuesday, civilians accounted for 54 of the 113 Palestinians killed since Operation Pillar of Defence began last Wednesday.
Some 840 people have been wounded, including 225 children, Gaza health officials said.
On Wednesday, Israel’s military targeted about 100 sites in Gaza, including ammunition stores and the Gaza headquarters of the National Islamic Bank.
Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry said six Palestinians were killed.
Israeli police said more than 60 rockets were fired from Gaza by midday, and 25 of the projectiles were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome system.
Their military said an officer was wounded.
VIDEO: Wild celebrations after ceasefire is announced
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