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Arafat ceremony canceled in Gaza in wake of bomb blasts

Nov. 9, 2014 3:40 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 11, 2014 10:05 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Fatah movement announced Sunday that the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the death of PLO chairman Yasser Arafat in Gaza would be canceled.

The ceremony, which was scheduled for Tuesday, would have been the first time a commemoration of Arafat's death was allowed in the Strip since Hamas took control in 2007.

"After the series of explosions and assaults against Fatah leaders, we have been notified by Hamas' political and security officials that security services won't be able to take charge of security arrangements during the Arafat anniversary ceremony," said a senior Fatah leader in the Gaza Strip.

Zakariyya al-Agha said in a statement that "Gaza security services asked the workers who were fixing the stage at al-Katiba square in Gaza City to stop working and leave."

A Hamas-affiliated spokesman confirmed the cancellation.

"Due to serious tension amidst the public, and the exchange of accusations after the suspicious explosions in Gaza, as well as other logistic difficulties," Gaza security services will not be able to take charge of security arrangements during the anniversary ceremony, said Iyad al-Buzm, spokesman of the former Hamas-run government's interior ministry.

He added that Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah had not been communicating with Gaza security services, and that his unity government had not paid any salaries to security officers in Gaza, which created "logistical difficulties."

The Fatah movement had said on Saturday that despite a series of blasts Friday targeting Fatah members, it was continuing with preparations for the event.

All Palestinian factions were to take part in the celebrations for the beloved Palestinian leader, who died of mysterious causes on Nov. 11, 2004.

Early Friday, explosions targeted the homes of Gaza Governor Abdullah al-Efranji, Fatah MP Faisal Abu Shahla, Revolutionary Council member Abu Juda al-Nahhal, Fatah spokesman Fayiz Abu Aita, and Fatah leaders Abd al-Rahman Hamad, Abd al-Jawad Ziyada, Sharif Abu Watfeh, Jamal Obeid, and Ziyad Matar.

Fatah said the attacks "aimed to sabotage the commemoration of the anniversary of Arafat's death," and some Fatah officials blamed Hamas for the attacks.

But the Hamas movement denied responsibility and condemned the incident, calling it a "criminal act."

Fatah and Hamas signed a unity deal in April and in June the West Bank and Gaza were brought together under a national consensus government of independent technocrats.
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