Hundreds of thousands of Fatah supporters gathered in Gaza City’s Saraya Square on Friday for a mass rally to commemorate the faction’s 48th anniversary. This is the first Fatah rally at this scale to be held in Gaza since infighting between Hamas and Fatah toned down in mid-2007.
At face value, this is a good indicator that both Hamas and Fatah are scaling back on their efforts to limit or even force public opinion. It is no secret that the very notion of political dissidence in the occupied Palestinian territories is regularly met with hesitancy and competing territory-wide bans. But in the wake of Israel’s latest invasion on Gaza, Fatah — currently in control of the Palestinian Authority (PA) — and Hamas appear to have put much of the past five years aside. Another unity attempt is reportedly in the works.
I suspect there is slightly more at play here. For one thing, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it very clear that he wouldn’t be calling off his Pillar of Defense invasion if Gaza-based factions resist. But in just a few days he turned his reservists around and signed onto a ceasefire deal. Gaza celebrated its victory, Netanyahu’s election campaign hit a rough patch, and the PA network faced immediate humiliation for its collaboration with Israel. [Read more...]