Hamas subdued despite Gaza victory claim-Israeli military

Fri Dec 14, 2012 5:38am EST
 
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By Dan Williams

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's offensive on Gaza has deterred Hamas from new hostilities despite its claims of victory and the front is now at its quietest in 20 years, a senior Israeli military officer said.

Vastly lopsided shelling exchanges over eight days killed 170 Palestinians and 6 Israelis before the November 21 truce brokered by Egypt.

The Islamist militant group Hamas, which for the first time managed to fire rockets towards Tel Aviv and Jerusalem during the conflict, says it won in the absence of an Israeli ground invasion that might have toppled its Gaza administration.

The officer said Hamas should be allowed to save face after failing to inflict more pain on the Jewish state.

"Their jubilation was not from victory, it was from their relief at being able to emerge from shelters," said the officer, who could not be identified by name under military regulations.

"They took a major blow and they have to patch up their honor," he said.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of the Gaza Strip last weekend to welcome the first visit by their previously exiled leader Khaled Meshaal. He declared victory at a rally and vowed to seize all of modern-day Israel one day.

The ceasefire brought Palestinians access to border farmland and fishing waters that Israel had previously kept off-limits and truce talks might lead to a further rolling back of Israel's blockade of the coastal strip.   Continued...

 
Palestinians wave Hamas flags during a rally celebrating what they claim to be Hamas' victory over Israel in the Gaza conflict, in the West Bank city of Ramallah November 23, 2012. Israeli troops at the Gaza border shot dead a Palestinian man and wounded 15 more on Friday, health officials said, in the first fatality since a ceasefire between the territory's Islamist rulers Hamas and Israel. The banner reads: "The resistance has achieved victory." REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman