Palestinians urged to hold rallies for Hamas-Fatah unity

Campaign initiated by youth groups on Facebook; West Bank, Gaza gov'ts say they will not prevent demonstrations from taking place.

Palestinians in Ramallah rallying for unity 311 R (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
Palestinians in Ramallah rallying for unity 311 R
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
Palestinians have been urged to hold mass rallies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Tuesday as part of a campaign aimed at exerting pressure on Hamas and Fatah to end their dispute.
The campaign, which was first initiated by various youth groups on Facebook, has been endorsed by several Palestinian political factions, which called on their supporters to take to the streets to join the demonstrators.
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The campaign has been inspired by the current wave of popular uprisings sweeping the Arab world - most of which were organized through Facebook and other online social media groups.
Palestinian Authority and Hamas security forces have been placed on high alert in a pre-emptive move to prevent outbursts of violence.
The two parties fear that each one would use the rallies to incite against the other.
The two Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip said they would not prevent the rallies from taking place, but warned against attempts to “hijack” the protests by political groups.
The Hamas government has in recent days used force to disperse demonstrators in the Gaza Strip who called for an end to Palestinian divisions. However, Hamas has since reversed its policy and is now allowing “pro-unity” rallies.
On Monday, hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in the Unknown Soldier Square in Gaza City, chanting slogans calling for an end to the Hamas-Fatah dispute.
Ehab Ghissin, spokesman for the Hamas-run Interior Ministry, declared that his government would not stop Tuesday’s rallies. However, he warned that some political parties, which he did not identify, may try to “poison the rallies and divert them from their course.”
Ghissin said that Hamas has long favored achieving Palestinian unity because it’s a “noble goal that every caring Palestinian wants to achieve.”
Palestinians also demonstrated in Manara Square in the center of Ramallah on Monday as part of the campaign. Dozens of youths announced that they had begun a hunger strike until Hamas and Fatah agree to end their dispute.
The demonstrators in the Gaza Strip and West Bank hoisted Palestinian flags with the writing “The People Want An End To Division.”