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Palestinian unity? Fatah holds first mass Gaza rally in years

Mohammed Salem / Reuters

Palestinians take part in a rally marking the 48th anniversary of the founding of the Fatah movement in Gaza City on Jan. 4, 2013.

Reuters reports — Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians joined a rare rally staged by President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah group in Gaza on Friday, as tensions ease with rival Hamas Islamists ruling the enclave since 2007.

A long hiatus in peace talks between Abbas's administration and Israel has narrowed ideological differences between the two main Palestinian factions. Solidarity has deepened since Israel's Gaza assault in November, after which hardline Hamas, though battered, declared victory.

Suhaib Salem / Reuters

A poster depicting late Palestinian and Fatah leader Yasser Arafat.

Abbas remains based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, but several of his senior advisers attended Friday's march in the Gaza Strip, festooned with yellow Fatah flags rather than the green Hamas colors that have dominated such events since Hamas fighters drove Fatah from the territory in 2007. 

Ahmed Zakot / Reuters

A youth waves a Palestinian flag as he climbs a tree during the rally in Gaza City.

Egypt has long tried to broker Hamas-Fatah reconciliation, but past efforts have foundered over questions of power-sharing, control of weaponry, and to what extent Israel and other powers would accept a Palestinian administration including Hamas. Read the full story.

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