Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hamas Holds Ramallah Rally as Unity Takes Effect

Green Hamas flags flapping in the wind alongside portraits of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would have been an impossible sight in the West Bank only a short time ago.

But on Friday, thousands of Hamas supporters crowded the streets of Ramallah and other West Bank cities, lauding the unity deal signed last Wednesday between the rival Palestinian factions of Fatah and Hamas and demanding the immediate release of Hamas prisoners from jails run by the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA).

"Hamas and Fatah join arms," chanted the protesters, some of whom were wearing green Hamas bandanas, as they marched from Ramallah's Jamal Abdul Nasser Mosque to Al-Manara Square. Less than a week ago, such a demonstration would have been nipped in the bud by security forces loyal to PA President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement.

"The political prisoners will be released in the coming few days," Faisal Abu-Shahla, a member of Fatah's Revolutionary Council told the Hamas-affiliated daily Filastin. "Lists [of prisoners] are now being prepared; Abbas and Mashal [head of Hamas' political bureau in Damascus] have discussed the issue after the announcement of reconciliation."



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