Joy mixed with caution in Gaza after Palestinian unity deal

From Reuters - October 13, 2017

GAZA (Reuters) - It didnt take long after the firework smoke cleared in Gaza for some Palestinians to start questioning whether a unity deal between their two most powerful factions would hold.

Thousands took to the streets overnight celebrating the pact between Fatah and Hamas sealed in Cairo. Loudspeakers blasted national songs as youngsters waving Palestinian and Egyptian flags danced and hugged one another.

I am happy, no I am the happiest, Ali Metwaly, a 30-year-old computer engineer, said the morning after. But I am still afraid it will end in disappointment. My leaders have taught me they can easily disappoint us. I hope they dont, this time.

Under the reconciliation pact, Hamas is handing over administrative control of Gaza, including the Rafah border crossing - once the main gateway to the world for the two million Palestinians in the territory - to a government backed by the mainstream Fatah party.

A decade ago, Hamas forces seized the Gaza Strip from Fatah forces in a brief civil war. Past Egyptian mediation attempts to reconcile the two rivals failed to achieve lasting results. The latest clinched its elusive agreement after an economic squeeze on Hamas.

Analysts said the deal is more likely to stick than earlier ones, given Hamass growing isolation and realization of how hard Gaza - its economy hobbled by border blockades and infrastructure shattered by wars with Israel - was to govern and rebuild.

For Huwaida al-Hadidi, a 34-year-old mother-of-seven, economic relief cannot come soon enough.

Like about 250,000 other people in the territory, her husband is unemployed. Unable to pay their rent, the family has been living in a tent since their landlord evicted them three days ago.

Now that they signed a reconciliation deal, God-willing the blockade will be lifted and people will find work and be able to earn a living for their children, she said.


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