Gaza City, 23 Shafar 1434/5 January 2013 (Ma’an/MINA) – Hundreds of thousands of Fatah supporters gathered in Gaza City on Friday to celebrate the 48th anniversary of the nationalist movement’s founding.
Fatah supporters had been amassing at al-Saraya square in Gaza City since Thursday evening in preparation for the anniversary celebrations, with rallies taking place across the Gaza Strip overnight and into the early hours of Friday.
Atef Abu Saif, a leader of Fatah in Gaza, told Ma’an that supporters from south Gaza traveled to Gaza City at midday to join celebrations.
Senior Fatah leader Jamal Obeid told Ma’an that nearly one million people, both Fatah and non-Fatah supporters, gathered at al-Saraya square to join Fatah’s anniversary celebrations, adding that the square has now been closed off.
The message of Friday’s celebrations will be to end the division with Hamas and implement national reconciliation, he added.
Fatah will continue its struggle for freedom and independence, and will not cede the right to Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian people, he said.
Settlements must be dismantled and Fatah will not forget the right of return for refugees, Obeid said, adding that Israel must withdraw from occupied Palestinian land.
Senior Fatah figures such as Jibril Al-Rajoub, Osama al-Qawasmeh, Abu Ali Shaheen and Fadwa Barghouthi will take part in the celebrations, Abu Saif said.
Gaza’s interior ministry said that security forces are in place to ensure the safety of the public and Palestinian officials. They will also facilitate the movement of people and traffic in Gaza City.
“The success of the rally is a success for Fatah, and for Hamas too,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. “The positive atmosphere is a step on the way to regain national unity.”
Friday’s festival in Saraya square will feature cultural performances and a recorded speech by President Mahmoud Abbas.
It is first time that Hamas has allowed Fatah to hold such events since it took power in 2007 during a violent confrontation which bitterly divided the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Fatah also permitted a Hamas anniversary rally in the West Bank earlier this month for the first time, raising hopes of improving relations between the rival factions.
The Fatah movement has long been a cornerstone in the nationalist struggle for Palestinian independence and a dominant force within the PLO and Palestinian Authority. (T/R-009/R-006)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)