(Page 2 of 3)
Abbas was sidelined in the Gaza crisis, taking no part in the indirect negotiations in Cairo that produced the truce.
But he called Hamas’s Gaza chief and prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, to “congratulate him on the victory and extend condolences to the families of martyrs”, Haniyeh’s office said.
HAMAS RIDES HIGH
Rifts remain between Hamas, an Islamist movement which rejects Israel’s right to exist and espouses armed struggle, and Fatah, which has turned to non-violent methods in its quest for a Palestinian state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Neither strategy seems close to achieving its goals, but Hamas’s muscular stance resonates more on Gaza streets.
“We have elected Hamas and the resistance to regain our rights. We have a land that we want back,” said grey-bearded Abu Mohammed Shameya, 52, buying food in an outdoor market. “Each Jew should pack his things and leave. We are fed up with them.”
The deal forged in Cairo under Egyptian and U.S. pressure calls for easing a six-year-old Israeli-led blockade on the Gaza Strip, from which Israel withdrew unilaterally in 2005, 38 years after capturing the territory in the 1967 Middle East war.
Wrangling over how far curbs over crossing points into Israel and Egypt might be lifted has already begun, but for now, many of the 1.7 million Gazans crammed into a Mediterranean strip 40 km (25 miles) long were in celebratory mood.
“This is a victory for Gaza,” said Sami Shbair, as he sold vegetables to residents flooding out of their homes to shop without the constant fear of explosions and flying shrapnel.
“The Jews should understand that we got the power in Gaza and next time the response will go beyond Tel Aviv,” said the smiling 40-year-old. “Hopefully next time we will hit Acre and Haifa,” he said, referring to cities in northern Israel.