Second Palestinian mobile provider enters Gaza Strip
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Second Palestinian mobile provider enters Gaza Strip

Wataniya Mobile says launch of its network a ‘real success for the Palestinian economy and the Gaza economy in particular’

Palestinian men looking at mobile phones displayed under the logo of the Palestine phone company Wataniya, at a shop in the West Bank city of Jenin, on October 14, 2009. (AFP Photo/Saif Dahlah/File)
Palestinian men looking at mobile phones displayed under the logo of the Palestine phone company Wataniya, at a shop in the West Bank city of Jenin, on October 14, 2009. (AFP Photo/Saif Dahlah/File)

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Palestinian company Wataniya Mobile said it will launch telecommunications services in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, offering customers a choice of providers.

Wataniya, which operates in the West Bank and whose largest shareholder is Qatar’s Ooredoo telecoms with 48.45 percent, will become only the second mobile provider to serve Hamas-run Gaza.

The company’s chief executive in the West Bank and Gaza, Dergham Mari, said it would launch in Gaza early Tuesday “after the company completed the building of its latest communications network.”

Wataniya said it had been trying to enter the Gaza market for several years, calling the launch a “real success for the Palestinian economy and the Gaza economy in particular.”

“A number of obstacles have prevented the work of Wataniya in Gaza … including Israel not allowing Palestinian equipment in, as well as Palestinian licenses,” a company employee said on condition of anonymity.

Israel maintains a blockade on the Strip and keeps a careful eye on all imports to prevent the entry of military equipment and items that can be used for weaponry or in building attack tunnels that would endanger its citizens. Israel and the Hamas terror group have engaged in three rounds of armed conflict since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.

“All these obstacles have now been lifted,” said the employee, who added the company had around 150 staff members in Gaza.

A company official told AFP that a reconciliation deal signed earlier this month between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah had encouraged Wataniya to launch services in Gaza.

Under the deal, the Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank, is to retake control of the Gaza Strip from the Hamas terror group by December 1.

Hamas police stand guard in front of the Jawwal company’s headquarters in Gaza City on June 30, 2015. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

For the past 20 years, Jawwal has been the only telecommunications company working in the strip, which is home to two million people.

3G services are still unavailable in Gaza and the West Bank, where some users subscribe with Israeli firms.

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