Cease fire in Gaza appears to be holding

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November 22, 2012, 5:27 pm
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(NECN/NBC News: Ayman Mohyeldin) - A sense of normalcy is returning to Gaza nine days after Israel launched an offensive against Hamas.

A cease fire announced Wednesday appears to be holding, and on the streets of Gaza, there was celebration and joy late into the night after days of intense negotiation.

"For it to hold, the rocket attacks must end and broader calm return," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

But the night time celebrations gave way to Gaza's realities.

Families set up mourning tents to receive condolences. Officials here say more than 160 Palestinians were killed.

For thousands of Palestinians like Walid and his family, the calm gave them a chance to return to their abandoned homes for the first time in days.

When Israel dropped leaflets warning them to evacuate their area, he did. In the last Israeli attack on Gaza, his brother was killed and their farm destroyed.

Just miles away, where Israeli troops had prepared to invade Gaza, the order was given to stand down for now.

Israel, too, has new realities.

Palestinian rockets can now reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and five Israelis were killed and millions more within range of deadly rockets.

For now, both sides are claiming victory, with Hamas organizing a large rally in Gaza later on Thursday.

But for ordinary people, as shops and stores reopen and a semblance of normalcy returns to Gaza's streets, many fear this will be short lived.

Without a comprehensive solution, they say this will just be another bloody chapter in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The success of the cease fire has been accredited to Egypt's new Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who negotiated the deal between Israel and the Palestinian factions. But some say that truce will be short lived if Egypt and other countries in the region don't address a comprehensive solution to the problems in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Tags: Hillary Clinton, Israel, Hamas, Egypt, Palestine, Gaza, Gaza Strip, Negotiation, Ayman Mohyeldin, Mohammed Morsi, cease fire, truce
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