Arafat memorial ceremony in Gaza cancelled following attacks on Fatah leaders

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fatah yesterday announced it was cancelling the memorial it was planning to hold tomorrow in Gaza City for its late leader Yasser Arafat, following a wave of explosions targeting Fatah leaders' homes in the Gaza Strip. Sources in the Fatah movement blamed Hamas, the ruling movement in Gaza, for the attacks. Hamas has denied involvement and condemned the attacks.

The memorial was to take place on Tuesday at Al-Katiba square, to commemorate ten years since the founder and leader of the Fatah movement, Yasser Arafat, died. However according to Zakaria al-Agha, senior Gaza Strip Fatah leader, Gaza security services ordered the stage workers for the event "to stop working and leave".

Agha said, "After the series of explosions and assaults against Fatah leaders, we have been notified by Hamas' political and security officials that security services won't be able to take charge of security arrangements during the Arafat anniversary ceremony".

Some Fatah officials blamed the wave of explosions on Hamas. A Fatah spokesperson added they had been expecting the unity government "to cater to the interests of our nation". Hamas denied any connection to the events, and its spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri condemned the attacks on his Facebook page.

Hamas Ministry of Interior spokesperson Iyad Al-Buzm said the memorial had been cancelled due to the tense atmosphere between the two movements following the attacks during the last few days, and due to technical reasons, including the delay in salary payments to security personnel by the unity government. Furthermore, he said the prime minister of the unity government, Rami Hamdallah, hadn't contacted security in the Gaza Strip.

In June 2014, after an agreement between Hamas and Fatah, a reconciliation government was established. This reconciliation was to have enabled the first memorial ceremony for Arafat in Gaza since Hamas took over the strip in 2007. For the past few months, however, recriminations between the two sides have marred the arrangement. About two months ago, Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Hamas of establishing a "shadow government" in the Gaza Strip. Hamas workers accuse Fatah-dominated leadership of not paying their salaries.