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Hamas flags fly across West Bank

May 6, 2011 7:06 P.M. (Updated: May 8, 2011 1:28 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Hamas flags are flying across the West Bank for the first time in years.

Palestinians rallied Friday to celebrate last week's signing in Cairo of a reconciliation agreement by Hamas and Fatah.

The unity deal ended years of hostility, during which the Hamas-run government in Gaza and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the West Bank detained each others' supporters.

Demonstrators headed to Al-Manara square in Ramallah after prayers at Jamal Abdul Nasser mosque, carrying Fatah, Hamas and Palestinian flags and photos of President Mahmoud Abbas.

Crowds of Palestinians called for the unity deal to be implemented quickly and for the release of all political detainees.

Palestinian Legislative Council member Ahmad Musleh said the demonstration expressed the joy of Palestinians at the signing of the deal. It also sent a message to the agreement's signatories to move quickly to release detainees, the Hamas official added.

Musleh said he hoped the PLC would meet soon with all its members.

In the northern West Bank, Hamas supporters gathered in Tulkarem's Jamal Abdul Nasser Square, joined by their party's PLC deputies Abdul Rahman Zeidan, Sheikh Reyad Radad and Sheikh Fathi Al-Qar’awi and a Hamas spokesman Sheikh Abdullah Yassin.

On Thursday evening, hundreds of Hamas supporters held a rally in Nablus attended by Hamas leaders Hamed Al-Betawi, Mohammad Ghazal, Yaser Mansour, Husni Al-Burini and Tayseer O'mran.

Al-Betawi said the rally was in support of national unity "as a secret of our strength and in response to [Israeli] enemy acts."

Demonstrators chanted slogans celebrating national unity and raised Palestinian and Hamas flags.

The Palestinian Authority had instructed security forces not to oppose the rally, officials said.

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