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Dahlan extends influence with $50,000 pay-offs for grieving Gaza families Open in fullscreen

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Dahlan extends influence with $50,000 pay-offs for grieving Gaza families

A giant Palestinian flag being held by several Gazans [AFP]

Date of publication: 22 October, 2017

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An exiled Palestinian politician is regaining his influence in Gaza by offering $50,000 cheques to grieving families in exchange for ending their 10-year-old blood feuds.

As the rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas begin the road to reconciliation, families of loved ones killed in Gaza’s civil war a decade ago are being encouraged to move on.

With the backing of an exiled former Palestinian security chief, grieving families are agreeing to drop their 10-year-old blood feuds in exchange for $50,000 payments.

The idea is to help Gaza move beyond one of its darkest chapters - the week-long round of bloody violence that ended with Hamas' takeover of the territory in 2007.

More than 700 Palestinians were killed in the infighting between the Fatah and Hamas factions, which was characterized by pitched gunbattles on Gaza's streets and scenes of people being thrown off the rooftops of high-rise buildings.

The project is also giving Mohammed Dahlan, the former Gaza intelligence chief, his most direct involvement in Palestinian affairs since he was forced into exile in 2010 by President Mahmoud Abbas.

Gaza was once Dahlan's stronghold, to the point in which it was nicknamed "Dahlanistan" because of the power he had acquired in the city, which he used to launch violent crackdowns against Hamas oppositions.

But after his exile, his influence had dramatically decreased, leaving the now UAE-backed official in a position to want to regain influence in the besieged territory.

Buying reconciliation

In Gaza, family feuds are perhaps the biggest threat to the social fabric. Organisers say they hope that working at the local level can help on the broader political level as well.

"By doing this, we end rancour among families," said Majed Abu Shamalla, a Fatah lawmaker loyal to Dahlan. "We end a cycle of blood and revenge and this can lead to a real political reconciliation. Without ending this, the political reconciliation between the Palestinian factions can't be achieved."

When Khalil al-Anqah, a new recruit in the Hamas police force, was killed by a roadside bomb in 2007, Hamas blamed Fatah for the explosion and his family vowed to retaliate.

But recently, the family dropped its plan to avenge his death. They were among hundreds of people who attended a reconciliation ceremony held at a wedding hall in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya.

After a reading from the Quran and speeches by local officials, a representative from each family was called to the stage, shook hands with officials and received a cheque.

Abu Shamallah, the Dahlan loyalist, said a fund of $50 million financed by donations from Dahlan's wealthy UAE sponsors has been created for the compensations, enough for roughly 725 families who lost loved ones, as well as people badly wounded or disabled in the fighting.

In the meantime, Dahlan has also been spreading his influence by supporting projects for jobless workers, students and medical patients at the dismay of his rival Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.


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