Hamas forces cancellation of Arafat rally in Gaza

AP News
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Posted: Nov 09, 2014 2:13 PM
Hamas forces cancellation of Arafat rally in Gaza

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Hamas militant group forced the cancellation Sunday of a memorial on the 10th anniversary of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's death, underscoring the lingering tensions with the rival Fatah movement despite the formation of a unity government meant to end years of hostilities.

In a statement, the Interior Ministry, which is still dominated by Hamas, said it had informed Fatah it could not provide security for the rally. Faisal Abu Shala, a Fatah official in Gaza, confirmed the cancellation.

"We canceled the event because Hamas told us on the political and security level that they can't secure the event," he said.

Tuesday's event was meant to have been the first time that Fatah, the Palestinian movement founded by Arafat, held a memorial rally for the longtime leader in Gaza since 2007, the year that Hamas seized power in the coastal strip. At the previous memorial, held months after the Hamas takeover, at least 10 people were killed in clashes.

In the spring, the two Palestinian factions worked out a tentative agreement in which President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah would head a temporary unity government of apolitical technocrats until new elections could be held. But the deal left many major issues unresolved, and Hamas remains firmly in control of Gaza.

Fatah has accused Hamas of being behind a series of coordinated explosions last week that damaged the homes of several prominent Fatah leaders, as well as the stage where the Arafat memorial was to be held.

Hamas has denied involvement, and claims the explosions were the result of internal bickering between rival factions inside Fatah.

Abbas inaugurated a new memorial to Arafat in Ramallah on Sunday.