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Fatah: Hamas will not allow anniversary celebration in Gaza

Jan. 5, 2014 7:38 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 6, 2014 6:29 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A Fatah spokesman on Sunday said that Hamas refused to allow the faction to hold an official celebration for its 49th anniversary in Gaza.

Spokesman Hasan Ahmad said in a statement that Fatah asked to hold a celebration in al-Katiba or al-Saraya square, but that Hamas refused.

On New Year's Eve, Fatah held an unofficial gathering at Unknown Soldier's Square in Gaza City, where thousands came for a torch-lighting ceremony that marked the movement's anniversary.

Ahmad praised the attendees, who "showed their loyalty, support, love, and pride for Fatah."

Gaza government spokeswoman Isra Almodallal told Ma'an that the Dec. 31 ceremony was "very nice," but said it was "not the right time" for Fatah to hold an "official" anniversary celebration.

She said people in Gaza should focus on fixing the humanitarian crisis and standing in solidarity with suffering Palestinians in Syria's Yarmouk refugee camp, not on celebrating individual factions.

Though she hadn't received any statement saying that Hamas disallowed an official Fatah celebration, she said she assumed that was the case.

In contradictory statement on Thursday, Fatah announced that it "decided" not to hold an official anniversary ceremony in the Strip.

The torch-lighting ceremony was "comprehensive and it conveyed Fatah's message, and so we decided it was enough," Fatah leader Faysal Abu Shahla said in a statement.

Hamas, the statement said, had agreed Monday to allow its rival Fatah to celebrate its 49th anniversary in Gaza, but that the latter had chosen not to hold a celebration.

The division between the two factions began in 2006, when Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections.

In the following year, clashes erupted between Fatah and Hamas, leaving Hamas in control of the Strip and Fatah in control of parts of the occupied West Bank.
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