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Photo: AP
Yasser Arafat
Photo: AP
Last year's rally in Gaza
Photo: Reuters
Hamas bans Arafat memorial in Gaza
Islamist group's security forces remove banners in honor of deceased PLO leader, prevent Fatah members from holding spontaneous processions

While the Palestinian Authority is marking the fourth anniversary of Yasser Arafat's death, Hamas security forces in Gaza on Tuesday have prevented young Fatah supporters from holding spontaneous processions in memory of the late Palestinian Liberation Organization leader.

 

Eyewitnesses said Hamas forces used force in some cases and removed Fatah flags and posters of Arafat that were suspended from houses in the Strip. Homeowners who refused to remove the banners were taken in for questioning, they said.

 

The PA has held several memorial services for Arafat in the past few days, and the main ceremony is scheduled to take place near the deceased leader's tomb in Ramallah later in the day. Additional rallies will be held throughout the West Bank.

 

Last year hundreds of thousands of Gazans took part in a rally commemorating Arafat, but this year Hamas declared a high state of alert among its security forces and said it would prevent any attempt by Fatah supporters to mark the occasion.

 

Hamas' Interior Ministry said it had detained a number of Fatah members who admitted to planning to carry out terror attacks and stage riots ahead of the anniversary. Fatah vehemently criticized Hamas' decision to ban the Arafat memorial in Gaza. A moment of silence throughout the territories was scheduled for 12 pm.

 

Reports that Arafat had been poisoned to death have resurfaced lately in the Palestinian press.

 

Nasser al-Kidwa, Arafat's nephew and the former Palestinian envoy to the United Nations said the true cause of Arafat's death would be revealed soon. 

 

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