PLO chairman Yasser Arafat holds the second phase of the Oslo peace accords after the initialling of the document, September 24..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Fatah canceled a rally in the Gaza Strip to mark the anniversary of the death of its former chairman Yasser Arafat, it announced on Sunday.
The decision came after a series of bombings targeted the homes and vehicles of 15 senior Fatah officials in the Gaza Strip on Friday.
The site in Gaza City where the rally was supposed to take place was also targeted.
Fatah has held Hamas responsible for the bombings, saying they were aimed at preventing the rally from taking place.
Hamas continues to deny responsibility for the explosions, which have further strained relations between the rival parties.
Zakariya al-Agha, member of the Fatah Central Committee, said in a press conference in Gaza City that Hamas has informed him that it would not be able to guarantee the safety of participants in the rally, which was slated for Tuesday, the 10th anniversary of Arafat’s death in a French hospital.
Hamas also asked transportation companies in the Gaza Strip to refrain from renting their buses to the organizers of the Fatah rally, Agha said.
Hamas’s actions contradicted its earlier announcement that it would not hinder preparations for holding the Arafat rally, the Fatah official said. Hamas’s actions harm the reconciliation agreement reached between the two sides earlier this year, he said.
A spokesman for the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza confirmed that the rally has been called off.
The spokesman said the decision to cancel the rally was attributed to internal differences in Fatah.
Some reports had suggested that Friday’s explosions were initiated by Fatah elements opposed to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is also the chairman of Fatah.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that his movement had nothing to do with the explosions. “This is an internal Fatah matter,” he said. “Hamas calls upon Fatah to stop involving us in its internal affairs.”
Gen. Adnan Damiri, spokesman for the PA security forces in the West Bank, lashed out at Hamas and accused it of holding the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as hostages.
“Hamas is trying to militarize the Gaza Strip to achieve its factional goals which go against independence and national reconciliation,” Damiri said.
He scoffed at Hamas’s announcement that it has formed a “Popular Army” as a reserve force in the Gaza Strip.
“Does Hamas believe that all what the Gaza Strip needs now is a popular army?” Damiri asked. “Or is Hamas trying to ask the government for salaries for members of its popular army?”