Palestinians Mark 48-Year Anniversary of Fatah in Gaza Rallies

Palestinian supporters of Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party are rallying in the Gaza Strip to mark the movement’s 48-year anniversary, in the first such public gathering approved by the ruling Hamas movement in six years.

Arriving in trucks, cars, motorbikes and on foot, Palestinians met at an open yard in Gaza city center to attend a rally celebrating the creation of Fatah in January 1965.

“The crowds came to tell Hamas that we are eager for reconciliation and unity,” said Amal Hamad, a Palestinian member of the Fatah central committee. “And to tell Netanyahu, the Israeli premier, that the Palestinian state will be established soon whether he accepts it or not.”

Hamas, classified as a terrorist group by the U.S., the European Union and Israel, seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, having won elections the previous year, ousting forces loyal to Abbas and banning rallies in support of Fatah.

The two groups pledged to seek reconciliation in November after the United Nations General Assembly voted to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state, approving a bid by Abbas that was also endorsed by Hamas.