November 10, 2009 / 3:42 PM / 10 years ago

Fatah says Hamas holds dozens on Arafat anniversary

A Palestinian man holds a candle during a rally marking the fifth anniversary of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's death, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip November 10, 2009. Arafat died on November 11, 2004. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

GAZA (Reuters) - The Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Gaza’s Islamist Hamas rulers of detaining dozens of its members on Tuesday to stop them marking the 5th anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat.

Fatah officials said Hamas security forces carried out a wave of arrests the Gaza Strip that included senior Fatah figures Mohammed Al-Nahal and Jamal Abeid.

Hamas does not want to give Fatah any chance of regrouping in Gaza, and aims to retaliate for the suppression it says is regularly inflicted on its members by Fatah in the West Bank.

One Fatah official said he believed the arrests would continue on into Wednesday, the anniversary day.

Ehab Al-Ghsain, a spokesman of the Hamas Interior Ministry, denied the allegations calling them the “usual Fatah charges to cover up on the continued arrest of Hamas men in the West Bank.”

Two years ago, nine people were killed in clashes between Fatah supporters and police of their rivals Hamas, at one of the largest memorial rallies in Gaza to mark the anniversary of PLO leader Arafat’s death.

Ghsain said Fatah had not asked for permission to hold any public events in Gaza. A Fatah official said such requests were usually rejected by Hamas.

Hamas and Fatah have repeatedly traded accusations of arrest campaigns against supporters of the two groups in Hamas-run Gaza and the Fatah-dominated West Bank. Over a year of Egyptian mediation had failed to reconcile the two groups or to persuade them to take steps toward that end.

Senior Fatah lawmaker Ashraf Goma discreetly hosted supporters in his office of Tuesday in the southern Gaza Strip, where they lit candles under a large mural of Arafat.

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