Aggrieved Palestinian families in Gaza reconcile
"He was coming back home from the market, where he went daily to sell peanuts when he was caught in the crossfire. Now, I can say I am relieved that my husband's soul has not been forgotten. We look forward to a better life and genuine reconciliation among all the Palestinian people" said Um Khalil, Fawzi Khalil Redwan's wife from the southern Khan Younis city.
The widow recently accepted a compensation fund of $50,000 US dollars, during a large reconciliation celebration, in Gaza city.
Um Khalil and many other families from the coastal region have been compensated through a local reconciliation committee formed by Hamas and Fatah.
"Being keen about unity and reuniting the Palestinian people, we the families of those killed during the 2007 violence, have opted for reconciliation and compensation. And this is something that is considered a deeply-rooted value of our Islamic faith and our Palestinian community culture.
"We are presenting this reconciliation to the whole Palestinian political spectrum, as a model for a genuine unity. We call on the Palestinian Authority and all other Palestinian factions, to accelerate reconciliation, according to the 2011 Cairo agreement", said Mohammad Alfarra, spokesperson for the 140 families, when speaking to thousands of Gazans during the festivities.
Community-based reconciliation in the coastal territory is regarded as an integral part of the political reconciliation process between the two parties. Back in 2007, when violence erupted between the two major parties amidst Hamas' takeover of the territory, hundreds of Palestinians from both sides were killed.
|We gift this major reconciliation to the Palestinian people, everywhere|
Fatah - a co-organiser of the celebrations - thanked both Egypt and the United Arab Emirates for helping fund the compensation for all the families, aggrieved because of the Fatah-Hamas political split that lasted over 10 years.
Those Fatah figures who participated in this week's ceremony are supporters of former Fatah strongman, Mohammad Dahlan, who has been at odds with the Palestinian Authority's president, Mahmoud Abbas.
Dahlan has been ousted from the Fatah party for the past few years over corruption charges brought by the PA Fatah leader, Mahmoud Abbas. Dahlan has remained abroad and is said to have had connections with the United Arab Emirates and other international players.
"Our prisoners in Israeli jails were the ones who drafted the document for community-based reconciliation, and we are following their instructions. The late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, gave a lesson in unity to the Palestinian people," said Majed Abu Shallaha, a Fatah member of parliament when speaking to the crowds. He also pointed out the PA's measures against the Gaza Strip, ordered by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.
Thirteen years on
Last week's reconciliation ceremony was organised to coincide with the 13 anniversary of the death of late Palestinian leader and chairman of Fatah party, Yasser Arafat.
Other speakers at the ceremony were Khalil Alhaya, deputy-chief of Hamas's political bureau in Gaza.
"We gift this major reconciliation to the Palestinian people, everywhere. And I would stress that we want one Palestinian national government that is dedicated to all Palestinian people. Because Palestine is precious, Palestine deserves more", Alhaya told the crowds.
|Many thousands attended the community-based reconciliation ceremony, in Gaza city last week [Almeghari]|
According to organisers of the ceremony, so far, around 140 families have received reconciliation funds. This number includes families from all over the Gaza Strip.
"The sum given to each family is 50,000 US dollars. This latest ceremony is not the only one, we have also held small-scale ceremonies in other areas of Gaza. This latest one is the largest-ever.
"I would like to say that families of those wounded during the 2007 violence will be also reconciled and compensated, financially, but this can only happen after we complete the file of those killed", Karim Albana, a local organiser of the reconciliation ceremony told The New Arab.
According to Albanna, the 2007 violence left 500 Palestinians dead, when Islamist Hamas party attempted to take control of Gaza from the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, causing deadly street fights.
The unity deal signed recently by Fatah and Hamas in Cairo was based on a previously unsuccessful 2011 version. This agreement however, has led to Hamas, handing over responsibilities to a Ramallah-based consensus government, which Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, formed three years ago.
Rami Almeghari is a Palestinian freelance journalist living and working in Gaza.
Follow him on Twitter: @writeralmeghari