Monday, 19 April 2010

Prisoners' Day marked with show of unity from Fatah and Hamas

GAZA CITY — Hamas and Fatah closed ranks on Saturday to mark Palestinian Prisoners' Day on Saturday, in the first joint initiative by the bitter rivals since the latter was routed from Gaza in 2007.

Representatives of the two factions, joined by members of smaller militant groups, relatives of prisoners and international activists, staged a sit-down protest and 24-hour fast outside the Gaza City offices of the Red Cross.

Ismail Haniya, head of the Hamas government in Gaza, made a brief visit to call for Palestinian reconciliation and urge all Palestinians to fight Israeli occupation "by any means" and pressure Israel to free thousands of prisoners.

"We must put aside anything that can harm our unity," Fatah representative Raafat Hamdouna said, hailing Saturday's joint protest with the Islamist movement Hamas which expelled Fatah in deadly street fighting in June 2007. more