GAZA CITY - Gaza's streets, empty and quiet during a week of violence, were once again flooded with cars and people on Thursday as life returned to normal after a truce deal between Hamas and Israel. The clogged streets would have been unthinkable 24 hours earlier, as Israeli missiles fell and Palestinian rockets were launched skywards.Participants waved the yellow flags of the Brigades and red flags of the PFLP as residents watched from nearby buildings. The mood was palpably joyful, with strangers greeting each other with handshakes and smiles. Outside the parliament building, thousands gathered for a celebration organised by Hamas, many waving the movement's trademark green flag.Although it was led by Hamas, the gathering had an unusually non-partisan feel for Gaza, where the movement has often cracked down on displays of support for other Palestinian organisations, including arch-rival Fatah.Parents carried children with the words "Hamas" in green and "Fatah" in yellow painted onto their cheeks, and some waved the flags of both movements.Sixty-year-old Yusef Jdeidah was smiling as he watched the scene. "The thing I'm happiest about is that the Palestinian people seem to be coming together. This, I think, is the best and most beautiful outcome of a terrible war," he said.After days and nights cooped up at home, residents were eager to reclaim their hometowns and their lives.Many stopped by newspaper vendors to pick up a daily or ate breakfast at one of the falafel stands dotting the city. People were also visiting multiple sites bombed by Israel, taking pictures of the damage with their mobile phones. Shop owners began to reopen, some for the first time since the violence began on November 14 with Israel's targeted killing of a senior Hamas military commander, and electrical workers and glaziers were out in force, repairing the damage caused by the bombing.Some swept the pavements in front of their shops, as locals queued in front of cash machines, withdrawing money now that places were open for business again. Not far from the demonstration, 23-year-old Majdi Kheil was manning a stall selling nuts and seeds, nodding approvingly as a hit song called "Hit, Hit Tel Aviv" belted out of the speakers."I finally feel comfortable and safe, this is the first time I've worked since the war started," he said."I'm really glad the groups seem to be working together and think the truce was detailed, so I hope it will last." Hamas declared Thursday a public holiday - "a national holiday of victory" - in a statement issued the night before after the ceasefire went into effect.It called on Palestinians "to celebrate this occasion and visit the families of the martyrs and the wounded and those affected by the violence, and to affirm national solidarity". Gaza's children, virtually absent from the streets since the violence began, will begin to return to school from Saturday. But in the meantime they too were taking advantage of the festive atmosphere, successfully entreating their parents to buy them new clothes, a toy, or some ice cream.The Hamas prime minister of the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniya, called on all Palestinian factions to respect a truce deal reached with Israel a day earlier. "I salute the resistance factions who have respected the agreement since it entered into force and I ask everyone to respect it and act accordingly," Haniya said in a Gaza City speech.Haniya also called on "the security services to follow up on the matter."Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas spoke by telephone with Ismail Haniya and congratulated him on his "victory," a Hamas statement said. "In a telephone conversation, president Abu Mazen (Abbas) congratulated prime minister Ismail Haniya of Hamas on his victory and offered condolences for the martyrs," a statement from the Gazan leader's office said.Israeli troops arrested 55 Palestinian "terror operatives" across the West Bank overnight, hours after a truce came into effect in the Gaza Strip."A total of 55 terror operatives, who are affiliated with different terror groups have been detained. Among those arrested were a number of senior level operatives," a statement said, with Israeli public radio saying it included members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.It said the swoop was related to "recent terrorist and violent activity" in the West Bank, which has seen days of widespread protests and clashes over Israel's relentless bombing campaign targeting militants in the Gaza Strip.Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak warned that Israel may resume its attacks on Gaza at any time if a truce that ended a week of bloodshed fails to hold.The ceasefire "can last nine days, nine weeks or more, but if it does not hold we will know what to do, and then of course we shall consider the possibility of resuming our (military) activity in case of shooting or provocation," he told public radio.This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 23-Nov-2012 here.