Shortly before midnight last Thursday, in front of a cheering crowd, 31-year-old Hussein al-Deik was picked as the president of Palestine.
It wasn't a real election; just the grand finale of a TV reality series, shot in front of a live audience. Suheir Rasul, co-director of the Jerusalem office of Search for Common Ground, the organization that put on the show, said the goal is to get young people excited about the democratic process.
Life was already grim in the Gaza Strip when fighting raged between Israel and Hamas last November. Then Khulud Badawi got unexpected bad news about her husband.
"I was at home when my son came in and said, 'Mom, they killed Dad.' I said, 'Who?' He said, 'Hamas.' I asked him, 'Where?' He said, 'Next to the gas station,'" she recalls.
Badawi's husband, Ribhi Badawi, was in prison in Gaza City. He was supposed to go to court that day for a final appeal of charges that he had collaborated with Israel against Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip.
Tens of thousands of people turned out for a mass rally in the Gaza Strip on Friday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Hamas, which governs Gaza. The guest of honor was the leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal.
This is Meshaal's first-ever trip to Gaza, and it's been seen as a political milestone in Hamas' attempt to gain wider acceptance in the region.
Gaza is a small, very crowded strip of land that is full of young people. Roughly 1.7 million people live here, and about half are under the age of 18.
Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 7:14 am
For the first time since his exile in 1967, the leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshal, returned to the Gaza Strip today. He arrived through the border with Egypt, kissing the ground in celebration and as NPR's Philip Reeves reports, Meshal received a hero's welcome as well as military one.
For more on the changing dynamic in that region, we're joined live in the studio by P.J. Crowley. He served as assistant secretary of state for public affairs in the Obama administration between 2009 and 2011. He also served on the National Security Council in the Clinton administration. P.J., thanks for coming in this morning.