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Palestinians mourn 7 people killed in Monday's clashes
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20:19, November 13, 2007

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Many Palestinians started a one-day strike on Tuesday morning to mourn the seven people killed on Monday afternoon during clashes between Hamas police forces and Fatah supporters, who rallied in Gaza City to commemorate late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Many stores in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank were closed down, while schools and private sector institutions as well as banks were also shut down.

Hamas' arch rival Fatah movement, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, also announced a 3-day mourning across the Palestinian territories.

Abbas, currently visiting Turkey, also urged flags to be flown at half-mast on official buildings of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

On Monday, thousands of Fatah supporters rallied in western Gaza City to commemorate the third anniversary of Arafat's death. Clashes between Fatah supporters and Hamas police erupted as the rally reached its end.

Both sides traded accusations over who started first. Hamas said Fatah militants opened fire at its police, while Fatah leaders claimed that the large number of participants scared Hamas hardliners, who sent militants to break down the rally's success.

Palestinian hospital officials said seven people were killed and some 150 others wounded.

The rally was considered by local observers as a success for Fatah movement, which has become weaker after Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in mid-June following fierce clashes with Abbas' security forces.

The rally was the biggest Fatah demonstration since Hamas took control of the coastal Strip.

Hazem Abu Shanab, a spokesman for Fatah movement in the Gaza Strip, revealed that Hamas police forces arrested, overnight and before dawn on Tuesday, more than 400 Fatah local leaders and supporters.

"Arrests and killings of Fatah members would never change the movement's attitude to keep defending its position. The large number of people who joined the rally and today's strike are signs that show huge support of Fatah," he said.

Arafat, a historic leader and founder of the Palestinian cause, died on Nov. 11 of 2004 at a French military hospital and was later buried on the grounds of his West Bank headquarters in Ramallah.

Source: Xinhua

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