Hamas bans Gaza anniversary rallies by rival Fatah

The Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers on Saturday declared a ban on public rallies by the rival Fatah movement in a fresh move to tighten their hold on power, but Fatah officials vowed to defy the order and go ahead with planned marches to celebrate the movement's 43rd anniversary next week. Hamas, which violently seized control of Gaza in June from Fatah-affiliated security forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, has been stepping up pressure on Fatah members ahead of the anniversary celebrations, planned to begin on Dec.31 and to last until Jan. 3.