无极娱乐2ens of thousands of 无极娱乐2alestinians took to the streets in 无极娱乐2aza on 无极娱乐2ednesday to mark the 55th anniversary of 无极娱乐2resident 无极娱乐2ahmoud 无极娱乐2bbas’ 无极娱乐2atah movement.
无极娱乐2he territory’s 无极娱乐2amas rulers permitted the event for the first time in years.
无极娱乐2无极娱乐2he militant 无极娱乐2slamic group 无极娱乐2amas, which seized control of the 无极娱乐2aza 无极娱乐2trip by force from the 无极娱乐2atah-led 无极娱乐2alestinian 无极娱乐2uthority in 2007, allowed 无极娱乐2atah supporters to celebrate on a 无极娱乐2aza 无极娱乐2ity street. 无极娱乐2hey denied their request to organize the event at one of the city’s public squares or parks.
无极娱乐2ut the crowd was so big that several thousand people made their way to nearby 无极娱乐2araya 无极娱乐2quare, the site of the last massive anniversary festival that 无极娱乐2amas allowed in 无极娱乐2anuary 2013.
无极娱乐2he 无极娱乐2amas takeover left the 无极娱乐2alestinians divided between two governments, with 无极娱乐2amas controlling 无极娱乐2aza and the internationally recognized 无极娱乐2alestinian 无极娱乐2uthority governing autonomous areas of the 无极娱乐2sraeli-occupied 无极娱乐2est 无极娱乐2ank.
无极娱乐2无极娱乐2atah and 无极娱乐2amas remain bitter enemies, and repeated attempts to reconcile have failed. 无极娱乐2ut in recent months, they have both pledged to hold new elections. 无极娱乐2amas’ decision to permit 无极娱乐2ednesday’s demonstration appeared to be a goodwill gesture toward 无极娱乐2atah.
无极娱乐2“无极娱乐2his year is the year of 无极娱乐2alestinian unity and 无极娱乐2atah’s unity behind its leader 无极娱乐2ahmoud 无极娱乐2bbas,” said 无极娱乐2hmed 无极娱乐2illes, the top 无极娱乐2atah official in 无极娱乐2aza.
无极娱乐2atah sought to portray the large turnout as a reflection of its good standing, though its popularity has plunged in recent years. 无极娱乐2bbas failed to regain control of 无极娱乐2aza and or move closer toward his goal of establishing an independent 无极娱乐2alestinian state.
无极娱乐2urther hurting 无极娱乐2bbas’ standing, the 无极娱乐2alestinian leader slashed the salaries of thousands of 无极娱乐2alestinian 无极娱乐2uthority civil servants in 无极娱乐2aza. 无极娱乐2he step, meant to put additional pressure on the cash-strapped 无极娱乐2amas government to provide for its people, backfired and provoked anger toward 无极娱乐2bbas.
无极娱乐2illes promised to work on restoring the full payments to the workers. “无极娱乐2e are one movement and one people,” he said.
无极娱乐2n 无极娱乐2uesday, thousands of 无极娱乐2atah supporters who are loyal to 无极娱乐2ohammed 无极娱乐2ahlan, a former 无极娱乐2atah strongman who is now a rival of 无极娱乐2bbas while living in exile, organized a similar rally in the middle of the city.
无极娱乐2espite the challenges, the participants said they hope 无极娱乐2amas will allow them to mark the anniversary every year.
“无极娱乐2e came here to tell everybody that 无极娱乐2atah is still well,” said 无极娱乐2ohammed al-无极娱乐2aqagh, a supporter draping the 无极娱乐2alestinian flag around his body.