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US envoy's visit could ease Gaza blockade

Forced to rebuild using mud and animal-drawn carts, Gazans are increasingly frustrated with Hamas's hard-line policies.

Thousands of Gazans who lost their homes in Israel's offensive, such as these in the Rafah refugee camp, are rebuilding with bricks made from mud. Concrete, steel, and other raw materials are banned under an Israeli blockade.

Khalil Hamra/AP/File

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For Hamas, the intervention of US special envoy George Mitchell may have come just in time.

Nearly six months after Israel launched a blistering offensive to undermine the militant group, destroying thousands of homes and lives, Gazans are growing increasingly restless under Hamas rule.

Many privately complain that Hamas's hard-line approach with both Israel and the rival Palestinian party, Fatah, has intensified their suffering. Israel has blockaded the coastal strip, making it virtually impossible for Gazans to rebuild their lives.

Under pressure from the visiting Mr. Mitchell, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet met in Jerusalem Monday to discuss easing the two-year blockade.

Hamas also responded to the Obama administration's recent overtures. Top leader Khaled Meshaal, in Cairo for Egyptian-led talks on forming a unity government with Fatah, said Hamas would not obstruct any effort to establish a Palestinian state along Israel's 1967 border – a position that contradicts its charter, which claims all of historical Palestine for Palestinians.


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