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Hamas-ruled Gaza commemorate Arafat's leaving away
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11:09, November 11, 2007

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A Volkswagen minibus, attached with loudspeakers beside two huge yellow flags and big posters of late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, strolled on the streets of the Hamas-run Gaza city since Saturday morning.

Such scene is familiar that refers to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement, the similar loudspeaker cars now also tour in Gaza but carrying green flags of Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).

The announcers at the vehicle called on the people to participate in a mass gathering which Fatah plans to hold on Monday in Gaza city. It is expected to be the largest public activity by Fatah since mid-June when Hamas took over Gaza.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas(3rd R) stands in silent tribute during the inauguration of the mausoleum for late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank city of Ramallah Nov. 10, 2007.

In June, Hamas has fought pro-Abbas security forces and seized control of Gaza Strip. According to the Islamic movement, the step was necessary to impose the results of January 2006 parliamentary elections that brought Hamas to the power.

But nowadays, the Palestinians, especially Fatah supporters, are marking the third anniversary of the death of Fatah founder, late President Yasser Arafat who died on November 11, 2004 in Paris.

The vehicle passed the front of al-Saraya compound, the largest headquarter of pro-Abbas security which is now run by Hamas. On the walls outside, graffiti pictures were placed, starting from Arafat and ending with Dalal al-Mughrabi, a pro-Fatah female fighter killed in an attack on Israeli army targets in Haifa in November 1987.

Today, as Gaza residents suffers from unprecedented closure and economical collapse, they mark the anniversary of death of the "national unity man" who always pushed the Palestinians towards the "national consensus instead of the factional splits."

"May Allah mercy upon you Arafat," said Khalil Rajab, a 37-year-old vegetable vender. "If he were still alive, this hardship would never have happened," he said.

Since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in mid June, and after Israel considered the Gaza Strip a hostile entity, Israel has imposed various security measures, tightening its grip of Gaza, the poor, narrow and densely populated enclave.

Riham Ahmed, 33, a governmental employee, said that President Arafat has introduced the Palestinians to the world. But she adds in grief that "the world will no longer recognize us as a people of struggle... instead, they will recognize us as factions fighting each other for power," "We have forgotten Jerusalem and forgotten Palestine."

Hazem Abu Shanab, a spokesman for Fatah in Gaza, said that while commemorating Arafat, "we remember the Israeli occupation which prevented us from seeing the leader off."

Arafat spent his last two years besieged in his presidential compound in West Bank city of Ramallah until Israel allowed him to go to France for medical treatment from unknown poison until he died a few weeks after the departure.

"When we remember Arafat, we remember how the Palestinians became aggressive enemies, dissembled and dismounted," said Abu Shanab.

His wish was to be buried in Jerusalem but Israel rejected the request. Today, President Mahmoud Abbas has inaugurated a huge tomb for Arafat in Ramallah.

The new grave was mobile in order to be moved to Jerusalem, according to Abbas who pledged so.

Despaired Gazans expressed their hope to have a breakthrough in the peace process and to see an end to their political and economical crisis.

"We have two choices, either to wait for fruitful results out of Annapolis summit, or wait until new legislative elections to beheld in January 2010," said Hatem Abdel Bari, a Palestinian taxi driver in Gaza.

Source: Xinhua

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