By Hani al-Shaer and Nour Abu Aisha
GAZA CITY, Palestine
A delegation consisting of members of various Palestinian factions set out for Cairo from the Gaza Strip on Friday to discuss means of easing the blockaded strip’s humanitarian crisis with Egyptian officials, according to a source close to the delegation.
“The delegation includes 18 individuals representing different Palestinian factions, including resistance movement Hamas,” the source said.
Hamas has governed the Gaza Strip since wresting the territory from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement -- its main ideological rival -- in 2007.
During their planned weeklong visit to Cairo, delegation members hope to meet with Egyptian officials to discuss “proposals for easing the burden on Gaza’s people, the creation of job opportunities [in Gaza], and ways to fund projects in the energy and health sectors,” said the source, who spoke anonymously due to the issue’s sensitivity.
According to Palestinian media reports, delegation members are also slated to meet with Samir al-Mashharawi, a close associate of controversial Palestinian politician Mohammed Dahlan.
Currently based in the United Arab Emirates, Dahlan is a former Fatah leader and a chief political rival of Abbas.
In June, a Hamas delegation visited Cairo and met with numerous Egyptian intelligence officials.
Since 2007, the Hamas-run Gaza Strip’s roughly two million inhabitants have groaned under a crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade that has deprived them of basic commodities, including food, fuel and medicine.
As a result, some 80 percent of the coastal enclave’s population now reportedly depend on international aid to survive.