Muscat: As Ismail Qeshta spoke about the long-term ceasefire accepted by Hamas and Israel on Tuesday night, there was relief in his voice, and also joy.
Ismail, hailing from Gaza and living in Muscat, along with many other Palestinian residents of Oman, finally had something to celebrate after 50 days of war in which 2,143 Palestinians and 70 Israelis were killed.
Though the terms of the ceasefire aren't perfect, the sense of relief was clear since at least they know their families are safe now.
"I cried. The first thing I did was to call my wife just to say 'mabrook' and thank God, you are safe now that this war is finished," Ismail told the Times of Oman Wednesday afternoon.
He hasn't seen his wife in over a year, but the sense of relief was palpable. He then called many other friends and families in Gaza to share his happiness.
"Yesterday I called many people, more than I called at the time of Eid. Probably twenty of them, even those I don't usually call. When I talked to them I could hear people shouting and happily celebrating," he said.
For the first time in 50 days, Ismail slept through the night without waking every hour to check the news bulletins aired by Gaza's TV channels, as he had become used to doing. For days, he had been waiting for some happy breaking news.
This Wednesday morning was pleasantly surprising. Instead of reports of new air strikes and more casualties, there was some positive news.
"This morning the first thing I did was to tune into this channel to see the news bar. Today, for the first day in 50 days, I saw victorious news. Alhamdullilah," Ismail said.
The last three days of the war were especially difficult for Ismail's wife, because their infant son, Khaled, was sick, and they had to risk leaving their home to go to the clinic. Only once they were safely home did she tell Ismail that they had been to the doctor because she didn't want him to worry.
"It was very dangerous. She had jut left the clinic when there was an air strike," Ismail said.
Ismail described the past two months as a nightmare. Every day, he worried that his wife or son, who he hasn't seen in person yet, or another family member might be caught in some tragic situation, and he would carry the guilt for not having being able to bring them to Oman.
"When I used to browse through the names of the dead, I used to imagine that I would end up seeing some day one of my family members' name. It scared me," he admitted.
Ismail lost some distance relatives in the conflict and some of his family members lost their homes in the airstrikes, but compared to others, who lost entire families, he was lucky.
Palestinians relax; draw plans to visit their homeland
Now he can finally relax and once again plan to visit his homeland, now that the borders may soon be open.
Amjad Khalifeh, a Palestinian-Canadian who also lives in Muscat, said he was glad to see the end of the war and hoped that life could return to normal for his friends and everyone else in Gaza.
"I was happy to see the happiness among the people in Gaza and all Palestinians in Palestine and elsewhere. I'm very happy for those who remain safe and unhurt in Gaza. "Hopefully the siege will end and they will go back to their normal lives and they can live like normal, ordinary people who can travel, work, build their country, build their infrastructure, not feel under stress, not have to starve, or live at the mercy of a merciless occupying power," he said.
Though not all the Palestinian objectives were met in the ceasefire, Amjad said the Palestinian resistance emerged victorious by opening the land border with Israel and extending the fishing area from three nautical miles to six, both measures aimed at easing the effects of the blockade on Gaza.
"They haven't accomplished everything they wanted and I think it will take more time, but I think the resistance has won. It was a v