Hamas Fires On Arafat Memorial Service In Gaza

Thousands of people gathered on Monday in a Gaza square to remember their fallen leader Yasser Arafat. It was the first major opposition rally allowed by Hamas which seized Gaza from the Fatah several months ago, but Hamas leaders feared forbidding the gathering would antagonize the Gaza population. As people listened to speeches, gunfire suddenly sounded and within a few moments six lay dead while dozens were wounded. People fled for their lives as guns sounded in the air. Fatah spokesperson, Mohammed Dahlan asserted the firing began when people from a nearby Islamic university entered the square, but Hamas claims Fatah began the firing. The Fatah leadership in Gaza believed the huge mass of people was an expression by the Gaza population that it disagrees with the Hamas seizure of power.

This incident is further evidence of a deep seated fissure between Hamas and Fatah which currently makes difficult reaching an agreement with Israel. This makes even more important the necessity of inviting Hamas to the Annapolis conference in order that other Arab nations can assist in the process of bringing these factions together.