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Thursday May 5, 2011 10:08 AM (EST+7)
Reactions in Gaza mixed as Fateh and Hamas sign pact

Read more: unity, reconciliation, demonstrations, protests, Hamas-Fateh conflict, Fateh-Hamas conflict, March 15

GAZA CITY, May 5 (JMCC) - Thousands of Palestinians spontaneously poured into the streets of Gaza City Wednesday, celebrating the reconciliation agreement being signed by factions Fateh and Hamas in Cairo.

For the first time in four years, the yellow flags of Fateh fluttered in Gaza’s streets without the objections of Hamas security. It and flags of other factions flew side-by-side in the Square of the Unknown Soldier as young people danced the debke, a traditional Palestinian circle dance.

Amid the celebrations, however, the public’s reaction was mixed, some still doubtful that the agreement would mean real change.

Taxi driver Sami Abu Khosa, 44, said that the two factions agreed because “they have no other option.” He is hopeful, he said, expecting to see the results of the accord on the ground.

But university student, Amani, 23, said she was uncertain that the agreement would be implemented on the ground. She said that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which is dominated by Fateh, agreed to reconcile because it lost the support of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, swept from power by massive public protests this year.

“Hamas agreed because it lost the support of Syria,” said Amani, who studies political science. Syria, the home of Hamas leaders in exile, is also being shaken by demonstrations against its leadership.

“I do not believe them,” said, Abu Kamal, a falafel vender strategically positioned near the celebrating crowds.

“They are liars, they will do like they did in Mecca: after signing the agreement, they will fight,” he said.

On February 8, 2007, leader of the Palestinian Authority and Fateh Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas head Khalid Mishaal signed an agreement to end the infighting, brokered by Saudi Arabia.

Four months later, however, Hamas overran Palestinian Authority security installations in Gaza after armed clashes erupted between the two sides.

Money-changer Usama Othman, 26, said he is “very optimistic.”

“I just wish to see the results of the agreement on the ground. We are in need of political unity to be able to face the Israeli military and political pressure,” he said, smiling.

Parliamentarians from Fateh and Hamas joined the people in the square. Celebrants carried a white coffin, symbolizing the death of the political rift. In unison, the crowds chanted slogans calling for an end to division: “The people demand the implementation of the agreement” and “Fateh and Hamas are a one hand.”

Hussam Khadra is an activist who has worked to pressure the factions to end the political split. He said that he is proud of the role his group has played.

“But if they do not implement it on the ground, we will resume our activities against them,” Khadra said.

Deputy Speaker of the Palestinian parliament, Hamas leader Ahmad Bahar praised the agreement and calling for the immediate release of prisoners being held in Gaza and the West Bank by their political opponents.

Abu Judeh al-Nahal, a Fateh leader in Gaza, praised the reconciliation and paid homage to late Palestine Liberation Organization head Yasser Arafat, Hamas spiritual leader Ahmad Yassin and Islamic Jihad founder Fathi Shikaki.

He also expressed “appreciation” to Egypt and youth who organized marches on March 15 calling for unity and reconciliation.

Fifty-three-year old Umaima al-Kurd said she still does not believe what is happening.

“I have hopes, but I can’t believe it is true. I do not believe that after four years they managed to agree in two days. I hope to see it come to fruition,” she said.







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