Published: 2017-10-13 19:20
Last Updated: 2017-10-14 17:47
Editor: Abeer Ayyoub
“I’m very happy, and I really want this agreement to be implemented on the ground,” said Ali Bkheet, 32, who travelled from the northern Gaza Strip to Gaza city to watch the press conference of the signing of the reconciliation agreement on television.
Bkheet said that he hopes that this agreement will finally increase the hours of electricity he can have per day, and open the borders in front of him so he can move freely. “I’m optimistic, and I hope that this agreement will improve our life here, it has been a very hard eleven years,” Bkheet carried on.
For the two million Palestinians stuck in what is known as the biggest open-air prison in the world, the reconciliation agreement feels like a lifeline. Hundreds of people rushed to the streets holding Palestinian and Egyptian flags, played patriotic songs loudly, and chanted words of unity.
The two rival parties of Islamic Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement with an Egyptian mediation at the Egyptian intelligence headquarters in Cairo earlier on Thursday, after Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamadallah visited Gaza for the first time since 2014, ending a decade-long split.
The two parties have been holding low-profile meetings in Cairo for the past month. Unlike previous attempts to reconcile, this one was more serious; specially, that both of the sides need it to succeed this time.
Hamas won the Parliamentary elections in 2006, and then had a street battle with the western-backed Palestinian Authority that ended up with taking over Gaza, and ousting pro-Abbas forces to the West Bank. Since then, Israel imposed restricted siege on the coastal enclave, collectively punishing people there.
During this decade, Egypt has almost closed its Rafah border completely; Israel restricted the movement of both goods and individuals in and out Gaza. Almost more than 40% of the population are unemployed, and more than 65% of them rely on humanitarian handouts. In 2007, Israel has damaged the main electricity plant, which has caused a severe blackout crisis that hasn’t been solved until this moment.
The Gaza-based analyst Mustafa Ibraheem said that Hamas is no longer able to run the Gaza strip with all of the pressure Israel is putting on it, and that the Palestinian Authority wanted a united Palestinian figure to be able to negotiate with Israel.
“I think this is what Trump was referring to when he said (the deal of the century), all of what’s happening is happening due to regional changes that might end up with an Israeli-Palestinian agreement,” he told Roya in a phone call interview.
For the past eight years, Israel had waged three military offensives on Gaza, killing and injuring thousands, and internally displacing hundreds. These offensives all aimed to weaken Hamas, and to stop the rockets fired from Gaza to the southern occupied villages. Hamas is listed by America and some of the European countries as a terrorist group.
As the two parties finally agreed to reconcile, Palestinians in Gaza seem to be more concerned about what is coming next than the Palestinians in the West Bank, whose daily lives were not as impacted by the split.
While Bhkeen has seen nothing on the ground so far, he is still excited. “The atmosphere is very positive; I can tell it will finally work.”