Gaza Rally Turnout Surprises Hamas and Fatah

Cheerful Atmosphere Hints at Appetite for Reconciliation

by Jason Ditz, January 06, 2013

The massive turnout for Fatah’s 48th anniversary rally in the Gaza Strip surprised everything, but perhaps none so much as Fatah themselves, who have had only a nominal presence in the strip since their split with Hamas years ago.

The turnout overwhelmed organizers, with so many people in the square that several speeches had to be canceled, and a number of supporters were injured from the sheer number of people bunched together in tight spaces.

Hamas okayed the rally, which was a significant concession given the two sides have been at near open warfare since 2007. Fatah officials also gave the impression of being eager in a rapprochement with Hamas.

The two factions have been talking reconciliation for awhile, but the Gaza rally, with its cheerful atmosphere, shows for the first time how broad the appetite among Gazans is for a full-scale reconciliation, and may push the parties to get a deal done.

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