Thousands in W. Bank, Gaza protest Hamas-Fatah rift

Youth movements stage demonstrations demanding unity between Gaza, West Bank government; protesters set up tents, stage hunger strikes.

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)
Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in Ramallah, Gaza City, and Bethlehem Tuesday to stage protests calling for an end to the division between Hamas and Fatah. AFP reported that the largest gathering was in Gaza City's central Square of the Unknown Soldier.
Palestinian news sources reported that mostly young people organized the events and comprised the demonstrators, calling the rallies the "March 15 Youth Movement" and chanting "no to division, no to split." A Hamas spokesperson said that tens of thousands of demonstrators had arrived, and "there may be more on their way," AFP reported.
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Youths in Ramallah had set up tents Monday night before Tuesday's protests began, with some engaging in a hunger strike in order to show that they were the ones that organized the protests, Palestinian news outlet Al-Ayyam reported.
The official Palestinian Authority newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadida reported that the protests were organized "for the sake of restoring unity on the way towards liberation."
On Monday, around 500 Palestinians staged rallies in the Gaza City central square, also demanding Hamas and Fatah close the divide between the factions.
Hamas and Fatah have been split since elections in March, 2006 put Hamas in power. Most recetly, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has called on Hamas to engage with Fatah in order to have new elections.The IDF was on high alert throughout the West Bank on Tuesday in light of the protests against Israel and in support of Fatah-Hamas unity.