Qatari-Palestinian cellular network launches in Gaza

Palestinians wait for the grand opening of the main branch of the new cellular network company, Wataniya Mobile, a subsidiary of Qatar's Ooredoo, in Gaza City, Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. Until now, Gaza has only been served by one operator, Jawwal, which was launched in the Palestinian territories in 1999. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)

A Palestinian-Qatari cellular network has launched operations in Gaza, becoming the second provider there

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A Palestinian-Qatari cellular network has launched operations in Gaza, becoming the second provider there.

Palestinian and Qatari officials cut a ribbon Tuesday outside a Gaza showroom for Wataniya Mobile.

Wataniya has spent $40 million to build the Gaza network. Its directors say it is the largest private investment in Gaza since the Islamic militant group Hamas seized the territory in 2007.

After a decade of animosity, Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party say they are close to reaching a reconciliation agreement.

Wataniya's expansion was stalled by the Palestinian rift as well as by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza.

Wataniya has been operating in the West Bank since 2009, garnering about 8,000 subscribers. Its competitor, Jawwal, boasts 3 million clients in Gaza and the West Bank.

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