A group of 30 social media activists in Gaza gathered on the evening of 14 June and launched a campaign to mark the ninth anniversary of the Palestinian political division and call for national unity.
As the Fatah and Hamas delegations convene in Doha to discuss ways to implement the reconciliation agreement, Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip took to the streets to call for national unity and the Palestinian youth turned to social media to call for an end to the divisions.
The "End the Division" campaign was organised and carried out by Gaza's Social Media Café on Tuesday, in cooperation with the National Campaign to End the Division and Achieve Reconciliation, which includes a number of Palestinian women's organisations led by the General Union of Palestinian Women.
"We want the Palestinian leadership in Gaza and the West Bank to set aside their differences and come together with honest political intentions in order to solidify the Palestinian front in the face of the Israeli occupation," Nisreen Al-Shawa, coordinator at Social Media Café, told MEMO. She added that there was widespread interaction with their hashtag #انهوا_الانقسام (end the division), reflecting the distress and frustration of Palestinians after nine years of political division.
Al-Shawa said that they did not want to lay the blame on either one of the two factions, and that they were tired of the blame game. By focusing on the impact of the siege and the occupation and calling for reconciliation the campaigners want to leave the past behind them and move forward with a united leadership.
"We spoke about the high levels of unemployment which have reached 63 per cent in Gaza, as well as the continuing power crisis and prevailing poverty," Al-Shawa added, saying they wanted the Palestinian leadership both in the West Bank and in Gaza to work together to find solutions to these problems.
"We hope that our voice would reach our leadership and that our sole focus becomes ending the Israeli occupation."
The reconciliation talks taking place between Hamas and Fatah in Doha, Qatar, are the latest in a series of failed attempts to reach a viable reconciliation agreement between the two parties since their violent confrontation in 2007 and the imposition of the Israeli siege, following Hamas' victory in the 2006 general election.
Exchanging blame for the failure to follow through with their reconciliation promises and despite the formation of a unity government in June 2014, the hostilities between Fatah and Hamas continue to be unresolved.
"Many people are frustrated and tired of calling for national unity, but dozens of Palestinians who joined our campaign tweeted vigorously against the division and said enough is enough," Al-Shawa added. "We want the Palestinian leadership to hold long-overdue elections and then form a functioning national unity government and a legislative council."
The campaign was the latest of Social Media Café's activities. Formed five years ago in Gaza city under the umbrella of Amin Media Network, which hosted the first Palestinian social media conference, the forum has been organising media campaigns that advocate the Palestinian cause and the rights of the Palestinians with aims to cultivate the skills of Gaza's youth and guide and turn their frustration into a positive force, Al-Shawa told MEMO. Through training courses and cooperation with local NGOs in Gaza, youth at the Social Media Café tackle issues such as the Israeli siege, Israel's violations of journalists' rights and violence.
"It is easy to be frustrated and lose hope, but I believe there is still hope," Al-Shawa added. "If I didn't, I wouldn't have tweeted yesterday, and I probably would have left Gaza a long time ago."
Images courtesy of Social Media Cafe.
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