The Palestinian Fatah movement canceled planned anniversary rallies in the Gaza Strip Thursday, after officials from the ruling Hamas movement rejected all the proposed venues.
The rallies, to mark the 48th anniversary of the Palestinian group’s formation, were to be a sign of growing unity between Fatah and Hamas. Hamas, an Islamist terror group, recently held rallies in the West Bank for the first time in five years.
According to a Fatah official, the Hamas government in Gaza rejected all of Fatah’s proposed locations for the event, the Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported.
Fatah’s deputy commissioner-general Yahya Rabah said the party made great efforts to hold the celebrations, but Hamas refused permission to hold the event in both al-Kateibeh and al-Saraya squares.
Rabah said other groups, as well as Qatari and Egyptian officials, had tried their best to assist Fatah members in Gaza to hold the party’s 48th anniversary celebration.
Gaza has been ruled by Hamas since 2007, when the terror group staged a violent takeover of the coastal enclave. Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah president of the Palestinian Authority, which enjoys international backing, maintains control of the West Bank.
Though the two groups have been at bitter odds since the Gaza coup, renewed unity efforts were made in the wake of Operation Pillar of Defense last month, which saw Hamas’s support rise on the Palestinian street.
Earlier this week, the London-based Sunday Times reported that Israeli intelligence believed Hamas would try to stage a takeover of the West Bank.