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Palestinians mark 13th anniversary of Arafat’s death
November 11, 2017
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Gaza City: Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank on Thursday held rallies to mark the 13th anniversary of the death of revered former leader Yasser Arafat.

This year’s events came as rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas seek to carry out a landmark reconciliation deal signed last month that aims to end their 10-year rift.

Arafat, who died on November 11, 2004 at a hospital near Paris from unknown causes at the age of 75, remains a towering figure among Palestinians.

In a separate event in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Thursday, dozens of Palestinians gathered to commemorate Arafat’s death.

“We really wanted to come this year because this is the year for reconciliation between here and Gaza,” said rally participant Sanaa Al-Rifai.

“We hope this reconciliation will be a good start and the soul of the martyr (Arafat) will be more at peace when he sees the Palestinian people more united.” Arafat rose to become the leader of the Palestinian movement after the creation of Israel, leading an armed struggle in which thousands died.

Decades later he disavowed violence and famously shook hands with Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin on the White House lawn, although the peace the Oslo accords were supposed to bring never materialised.

The Palestinians have long accused Israel of poisoning him, charges the Israeli government firmly denies.

His body was exhumed in 2012 for tests but a subsequent French investigation found no proof of poisoning.

Last month, Hamas signed an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation agreement with Fatah that is supposed to see the Palestinian Authority reclaim control of the Gaza Strip by December 1.

Hamas handed over the borders to Fatah on November 1 in a first key test of the agreement but there have been signs of tensions in recent days over security control of the Gaza Strip.

Gaza’s merchants and consumers are reaping early rewards from reconciliation moves by the enclave’s dominant Hamas and the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA). Israeli border restrictions, including a nearly blanket ban on exports from Gaza, and three wars since 2008 have imposed severe hardship in the territory. Israel says its rules are driven by security concerns, accusing Hamas of having used imported material to build weapons including rockets that have been fired at its cities.

Agence France-Presse

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