The Israeli military operation intensified during the last hours before the ceasefire, causing further damage and destruction. Negotiations supported by Egypt and the United States resulted in the announcement of a ceasefire at 21:00 on Wednesday.
Rocket firing by Palestinian militants also increased, but stopped shortly after the announcement of the ceasefire. Over 1,500 rockets were fired into Israeli territory during the escalation.
The end of eight days of fighting has been received with great relief by the population of Gaza, although the calm is still very fragile.
Over 1,500 targets were hit by the Israeli military. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 140 Palestinians (90 civilians) were killed and 1,202 were injured since 14 November 2012, when the security situation deteriorated.
As soon as the ceasefire was announced, heavy shooting in the air and celebrations started all over the Gaza Strip. One fatality was caused by a stray bullet. On Wednesday, Hamas called for large gatherings at noon to celebrate the victory.
The population in Gaza will need time to return to normal; the last eight days have been extremely distressing. Despite the suffering and exhaustion, people are eager to move forward.