Hundreds of Palestinians marched through the West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday to mark the 55th anniversary of the Fatah movement led by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Established by Yasser Arafat in 1965, Fatah led the armed struggle against Israel for decades as the main component of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The PLO recognized Israel in the early 1990s at the start of the peace process, and since then it has been officially committed to a two-state solution.
Around a dozen masked men led the march through Ramallah, firing several rounds of gunfire into the air. Some wore what appeared to be fake suicide vests, referring to the organization’s past terror activities against Israelis.
Similar marches are planned elsewhere in the West Bank in the coming days.
— Joe Truzman (@Jtruzmah) December 31, 2019
Fatah has long vied with the Islamic terror group Hamas for leadership of the Palestinian national struggle. In 2007, the two factions battled one another in Gaza, leading to the Hamas takeover of the coastal strip. Several attempts at reconciliation have failed.
The peace process with Israel ground to a halt over a decade ago, leaving the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority with limited control over parts of the West Bank but little hope of achieving an independent state anytime soon.
Israel captured Gaza (from Egypt) and the West Bank and East Jerusalem (from its Jordanian occupiers) in the 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinian Authority wants all three territories to form a future state living alongside Israel.
Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently vowed to annex parts of the West Bank as part of his recent re-election bid.
The popularity of Abbas, and by extension Fatah, has plunged in recent years as he has failed to achieve an independent state or heal the rift with Hamas. Many Palestinians also accuse the Fatah-led PA of rampant corruption.
The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, historically considered the military wing of Fatah, was centrally involved in launching suicide bombings against Israelis in a terrorist onslaught during the Second Intifada in the early 2000s.
Despite engaging in security cooperation with Israel, critics have slammed the Fatah-dominated PA for inciting anti-Semitism through its educational system and media and promoting violence by paying stipends to the families of Palestinians jailed in Israel on terrorism charges.