Haniyeh congratulates Abbas on Fatah anniversary

Hamas PM phones PA president to mark 48th anniversary of the launching of the first Fatah armed attack on Israel.

Palestinians in Gaza celebrate Fatah's 48th anniversary 370R (photo credit: Mohammed Salem / Reuters)
Palestinians in Gaza celebrate Fatah's 48th anniversary 370R
(photo credit: Mohammed Salem / Reuters)
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 Friday.
Fatah leaders claimed that more than 1 million Palestinians participated in the rally, while Hamas representatives put the figure at 100,000-150,000.
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.
The event was cut short after rival Fatah supporters attacked each other, eyewitnesses reported.
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 Ramallah.
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 Hamas.
He also expressed hope that he would visit the Gaza Strip shortly.
Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a senior Abbas aide, said that what happened in Gaza on Friday marked the beginning of a “Palestinian Spring.”
He said 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.