Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hundreds rally in Gaza City for Palestinian unity


Gaza City - At least 1,500 Palestinians marched in Gaza City Wednesday, in support of a reconciliation between the rival Fatah and Hamas parties.

For the first time in four years, the yellow flags of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' secular Fatah party could be seen waving next to green flags of the Islamist Hamas movement ruling Gaza.
It was also the first time in years Fatah and Hamas lawmakers were present together in one rally.

The two parties have been bitterly feuding since Hamas beat Fatah in 2006 parliamentary elections, a feud which culminated in the Islamists seizing sole control of Gaza in 2007, by violently overpowering the Fatah-dominated security forces of Abbas.

But leaders of the sides hope to sign a long-awaited reconciliation agreement in Cairo later Wednesday. An Egyptian flag was also being waved in the crowd.

One participant in the rally, taxi driver Jihad al-Shawa, 41, said he was optimistic, arguing that an end to the internal Palestinian strife was 'the only option we have.'

But one of the students marching, Daniela Ahmad, 21, said she was sceptical.

'We don't want to see a repeat of Mecca. We don't want to see a piece of paper signed, and after that we will fight again,' she said.

She was referring to an earlier, Saudi Arabia-sponsored attempt - one of many - to reconcile between the two warring Palestinian factions, which had failed to take root.

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