12/14/2012, 00.00
PALESTINE
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Thousands celebrate 25 years of Hamas in the West Bank

It is the Islamist group's first public rally after it defeated Fatah in Gaza in 2006. Palestinian President Abbas and veteran Hamas leader are set to meet in the near future.

Ramallah (AsiaNews) - Some 5,000 Palestinians took part in a rare pro-Hamas celebration in Nablus, West Bank, some waving banners saying 'Jihad is our way' and 'You are the gun and we are the ammunition'. 

Organised to mark the organisation's 25th anniversary and the end of Israeli airstrikes against Gaza, it is the first demonstration in favour of the Islamist group in the West Bank following clashes between Hamas and Fatah over control of the Gaza Strip.

Until recently, the Palestinian authority had not allowed the group to stage any public event in the West Bank.

However, a few days ago, people in various West Bank cities and towns celebrated the visit to Gaza of Khaled Meshaal, a veteran Hamas leader, who was in exile in Syria and more recently in Egypt after he was expelled from Jordan in 1999.

For various analysts, this change is part of a renewed attempt to reconcile the two Palestinian factions following an agreement signed last year in Cairo in favour of a future coalition government and presidential election next year.

Amin Maqbul, secretary general of Fatah's revolutionary council, took part in the anniversary celebrations of the Islamist movement.

"Hamas has given thousands of martyrs, prisoners and wounded for Palestine," he said to roars or approval.

"There will soon be a meeting in Cairo between Abu Mazen (Abbas) and Khaled Meshaal to complete the reconciliation and this will be a historic day," he added.

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