My encounter with Dahalan
The PA kicked off its (rather anti-climactic) "victory celebration" campaign today in front of the Legislative Council in Gaza City in a much advertised “withdrawal festival”. Hundreds of supporters donning Fateh memorabilia showed up to hear Mohammad Dahalan speak, Minister of Civil Affairs and head of the "withdrawal committee" in charge.
As usual at such events, he dissappointed (the crowd, and the hundreds of journalists gathered to hear who to the untrained eye you would think was the Pope), making only a momentary appearance before being whisked away by throngs of body guards, firing their rifles in the air to disperse the crowd.
Finding myself at a vantage point in a now empty balcony overlooking the crowd, I decided to stay on a bit longer and snap a few photos. As I headed towards the back entrance of the building when I was finished, I suddenly found myself face to face with his excellency Dahalan.
We stared at each other for a few seconds, then exchanged "Marhabas", as he looked on stern faced, smirky grin plastered to his face. Before I could think of any intelligent questions to ask, I suddenly found myself in the middle of a stampede of Kaleshnikov-toting body guards and security forces, who pushed me out of the way, almost breaking my arm.
Not exactly the way I envisioned my first official encounter with the ever-controversial future leader of Gaza.