In war, nobody wants to be the last to die. In Gaza, it was the chief of the electric company’s maintenance division and his deputy. In Israel, it was a pair of volunteers working a security detail on their kibbutz.
The four deaths on Tuesday, hours before an open-ended cease-fire began between Israel and Hamas, reflected the often indiscriminate, opaque and lethal nature of a conflict that dragged on for 50 days and more than 2,100 deaths, only to end where it began, with a truce deal that is essentially a retread of the one signed in 2012 after the last Gaza war.
The cease-fire was still holding Wednesday, and that was good news in a conflict beset by breaches by Hamas and the other militant resistance groups operating in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli drones could still be heard flying circles overhead, but there was no rocket or missile fire. In Gaza, fishermen went further out to sea than they have in years, and farmers were allowed to work fields close to the Israel fence line.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel had dealt Hamas “the greatest blow since the organization’s founding.” But in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader there, praised the 1.8 million residents of Gaza as “the true heroes.” It was Haniyeh’s first public appearance since the war began seven weeks ago.