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Thousands of Hamas supporters rally across West Bank

Dec. 14, 2012 3:00 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 15, 2012 12:36 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Thousands of Hamas supporters rallied on Friday in a second day of celebrations in the West Bank for the movement's 25th anniversary.

Huge rallies were held after Friday prayers in Hebron, Ramallah and Tulkarem, a day after thousands turned out in Nablus for the first Hamas rally in the West Bank since 2007.

Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh phoned into a rally in Hebron, telling demonstrators: "You are re-writing history."

Palestinians in the West Bank are part of Gaza's victory against Israel, Haniyeh said, referring to the recent eight-day war hailed locally as a triumph of the resistance.

PLC speaker Aziz Dweik attended the rally and a minute's silence was held for those killed in the war.

In Ramallah, MP Ahmad Atwan told crowds: "Hamas is strong and the Israeli occupation will not last for long."

Hamas leaders Rafat Naseef, Hassan Khreisheh and Reyad Walweel joined a rally in Tulkarem.

Fatah officials took part in the Nablus rally, while the party's representatives in Gaza, where Hamas rules, have also got the go-ahead for their own anniversary event which is expected next month.

The parties, who split Palestine into separate governments in 2007 amid bitter fighting, had both clamped down on political activity by the rival party.

Since Gaza's Hamas rulers reached a ceasefire with Israel after eight days of fighting in November, the parties have started to lift some of the restrictions, raising hopes of reviving the stalled reconciliation deal of 2011.

Meanwhile, Fatah is preparing to celebrate its 48th anniversary in the Gaza Strip.

Fatah leaders met with Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal and his deputy Mousa Abu Marzouq during their visit to Gaza last week, as well as Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh, Fatah's secretary-general in Gaza Yahya Rabah said.

They asked to stage Fatah's main celebrations at Katiba Square in Gaza City, where Hamas usually holds its rallies. "We are still awaiting final approval," Rabah told Ma'an.

Secretaries of Fatah offices in Gaza met Thursday to discuss the agenda of the festival set by the party's central committee. They will meet again Saturday and update Fatah leaders and sub-offices on arrangements, Rabah said.

A high-profile Fatah delegation will attend the festival in Gaza, as well as party representatives from Israel and across the region.
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