Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh phoned Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas over the weekend to congratulate him on the 48th anniversary of
the the first Fatah armed attack on Israel.
The phone call came shortly
after thousands of Palestinians celebrated the event in Gaza City on
Fatah leaders claimed that more than 1 million Palestinians
participated in the rally, while Hamas representatives put the figure at
Hamas officials scoffed at claims that more than a
million Palestinians had participated in the event, saying the square could hold
fewer than 200,000 people.
It was the first time in five years that Fatah
had been permitted by Hamas to hold a public rally in the Gaza Strip.
event was cut short after rival Fatah supporters attacked each other,
The eyewitnesses said that scuffles broke out
after supporters of ousted Fatah official Muhammad Dahlan tried to prevent
Jibril Rajoub, another Fatah leader from the West Bank, from attending the
demonstration or addressing the crowd.
Other Fatah activists also tried
to disrupt the event as soon as Abbas’s speech was broadcast from
Several people were injured during the clashes, according to
Hamas and other Palestinians.
Top Fatah official Yehya Rabah confirmed
that organizers had been forced to cut short the celebration following scenes of
anarchy and violence.
Fatah leaders nevertheless hailed the mass turnout
as a “vote of confidence” in Abbas’s leadership and policies. They also pointed
out that the high attendance showed that Fatah continues to enjoy widespread
support among the residents of the Gaza Strip.
Haniyeh and Fatah leaders
expressed hope that the rally in the Gaza Strip would pave the way for achieving
reconciliation between the two parties.
Haniyeh said that his government
had not only permitted the rally to take place, but had also done its utmost to
ensure its success.
In his speech, Abbas said that he was working toward
ending the blockade on the Gaza Strip and achieving reconciliation with
He also expressed hope that he would visit the Gaza Strip
Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a senior Abbas aide, said that what happened
in Gaza on Friday marked the beginning of a “Palestinian Spring.”
that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were no longer afraid to rise against
Hamas’s oppression and repression.
“This rally showed that our people in
the Gaza Strip are not afraid of repression and terror,” he said.