Vast Majority of Israelis Wary of Cease-Fire

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israel and Hamas officially agreed to a cease-fire on Wednesday evening, ending the fiercest fighting between them in nearly four years. 

"These arrangements that were negotiated with the United States and with Egypt promise the people of southern Israel peace and quiet for a long period of time," Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told CBN News.

But many Israelis are wary of the agreement. Israel launched operation Pillar of Defense eight days ago -- bombing ammunition depots, rocket launchers and Hamas offices to combat excessive rocket fire against millions of its citizens.

The U.S. and Egypt worked behind the scenes to hammer out a deal between Israel and Hamas.

But within the first hour after it took effect, terrorists in Gaza launched at least three rockets at Israel, including one intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile battery.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said Iran had played a supportive role in arming and financing the organization.

Majority of Israelis Opposed

Some 70 percent of Israelis opposed the U.S.-brokered deal. Most feel Hamas will only take advantage of the opportunity to rebuild its arsenal and capabilities for next time.

Israel Defense Forces spokesman Dan Gordan says Hamas is fighting for Israel's extermination.

"Imagine living in a situation where you say 'we're going to go to war hopefully to buy ourselves a year of quiet' because we're realistic enough to understand it won't last much longer than a year or two with Hamas, which is a group that calls for not only our death but the death of Jews everywhere," Gordon told CBN News. 

"The Hamas charter says we look forward to the implementation of the promise of Allah when Muslims will rise up and kill the Jews until the trees and the rocks cry out  'O Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.'  That's in their constitution.  That's their 'We the people.'  That's who we're up against."

Hamas Claims Victory

Palestinians celebrated as Hamas predictably claimed victory

"As all my people here, yes, it's a big victory, actually. These people made this victory by their patience, by the blood of our people. We have 162 people who were killed for this victory. Actually, all the Palestinian conditions, they needed, they had it. They will open the borders, they will stop assassinating and killing our people. We will live in calm and in a peace situation," Hamas spokesman Ihab Hussein said.

One Gaza resident said Palestinians would continue to "liberate" what he called "all the occupied cities of Palestine."

"This is a victory for the Gaza people and, Allah willing, we will continue to liberate the rest of 1948 [borders]," Gaza resident Muhammad Bayari said. "We will liberate all the occupied cities of Palestine, we will reach them and liberate our occupied al-Aqsa [the mosque on Jerusalem's Temple Mount]."

But despite Hamas' claim of victory, Gordan says Israel met a number of its military goals.

"We've hit roughly 1,500 targets. We've degraded their terrorist leadership. We've hit their infrastructure. We've hit smuggling tunnels. We've hit their R&D facilities. We've hit their workshops and ammunition dumps. And we've done so I must say at the least loss of civilian life in any conflict I think in modern history," Gordan said.

Just hours before the cease-fire was declared, terrorists exploded a bomb on a Tel Aviv bus, wounding dozens and seeming to drive the war to a new level.

Israeli security forces said they detained more than 50 terrorist operatives in the West Bank, including Hamas officials.

For now, Israelis and Palestinians are taking time to put their lives back together. But both sides know this is just a period of relative calm before the eruption of the next storm.

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CBN News
Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl

CBN News Mideast Correspondent

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