Palestinian rift erupts after Fatah nixes Gaza event
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Fatah officials decide to cancel anniversary celebrations in Gaza citing Hamas refusal to hold rallies in two of Strip's main squares.
The positive atmosphere that prevailed between Fatah and Hamas following
Operation Pillar of Defense and the UN vote in favor of upgrading the
Palestinians’ status appeared to have ended Thursday, as the two rival parties
resumed their verbal attacks on each other.
The new crisis erupted after
Fatah announced the cancellation of celebrations in the Gaza Strip that were
scheduled for the end of this month to mark the 48th anniversary of its
Fatah officials in Gaza said they had decided to cancel the
events because the Hamas government would not allow them to hold rallies in two
of Gaza City’s main squares.
Hamas has banned Fatah from holding major
rallies in Gaza ever since the Islamist movement took control of the area in
2007. Fatah, in contrast, recently permitted Hamas to celebrate its anniversary
in several West Bank cities for the first time since that year.
wake of the recent rapprochement between the two parties, the Hamas government
announced two weeks ago that it had given Fatah permission to celebrate the
event in the Gaza Strip. However, it rejected Fatah’s demand to hold the rallies
in two squares and offered alternative venues, including the Yarmouk Stadium in
Gaza City and the site of former Jewish settlements.
Hamas spokesman Sami
Abu Zuhri cited security reasons to justify his movement’s opposition to holding
Fatah rallies in the two squares.
He claimed that information Hamas had
received indicated that “saboteurs” were planning to attack the Fatah rallies.
He did not provide further details, nor did he identify the
Abu Zuhri denied Fatah claims that Hamas had banned the
rallies. He said such talk was “very negative and unsuitable.”
spokesman said his movement’s agreement in principle to allow the rallies to
take place in the Gaza Strip was a “positive step aimed at paving the way for
Another Hamas official said his movement was
worried that supporters of ousted Fatah operative Muhammad Dahlan, who fell out
with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, were planning to disrupt the
rallies and turn them into anti-PA events.
However, Yehya Rabah, a senior
Fatah official in the Gaza Strip, held the Hamas government fully responsible
for the cancellation of the events.
Rabah said Fatah had tried over the
past three weeks to reach agreement with Hamas over the venue of the rallies,
but to no avail. Egypt and Qatar also tried to mediate between the two sides to
solve the crisis, he added.
The Fatah official confirmed that Hamas had
proposed two alternative locations for the rallies, but he said the former
Jewish settlement areas were lacking in infrastructure, and the Yarmouk Stadium
was in danger of collapsing since Israel had bombed it during the last war.