Palestinians marked 10 years since the mysterious death of their iconic leader Yasser Arafat on Tuesday. President Mahmud Abbas, Arafat’s successor and the head of Fatah, the main organization that constitutes the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization), delivered an imposing speech in which he accused the western powers for offering lip service to the Palestinian’s dream of independence. Arafat founded the Fatah movement in the late 1950s and since his death, the recurring refrain can be heard from across the West Bank to Gaza: “There would never have been any Palestinian division under Arafat.”
This is to outline the division that exists between Hamas and Fatah and the people’s desire and thirst for unity. Palestinians are unanimous in their belief that their iconic national leader would not have allowed the quasi civil war between Fatah and Hamas in 2007 which saw the Islamist movement ousting their rivals from Gaza and the establishment of two separate administrations.
In the West Bank city of Ramallah, a band paid musical tributes as thousands waved the yellow flag of Fatah at the Muqataa presidential compound where Arafat was buried after dying, aged 75, at a hospital near Paris on November 11, 2004. “The hour of freedom and independence has arrived,” read a giant banner on the stage where Abbas gave a speech.
But in Gaza City, Arafat’s portrait was nowhere to be seen and the stage where the tribute was to have taken place bore the marks of an explosion last Friday. “We were hoping this anniversary would mark the end of Palestinian divisions and show national unity, with Hamas standing alongside Fatah in paying tribute,” said Suheila Barbah, a young woman in Gaza City.Arafat was “the personification of national unity,” said Refaat Hajaj, a Gazan in his 30s. “They have deprived us of this anniversary.”
In his speech for the anniversary, Abbas accused Hamas of responsibility for the 10 blasts which targeted Fatah homes and property on Friday. “Those who caused the explosions in Gaza are the leaders of Hamas — they are responsible,” he said, accusing the movement of trying “to sabotage and destroy the Palestinian national project”.
The death of the Chairman still remains a mystery. To many around the world, he was simply poised by his arch rivals who saw in him the prime obstacle in their quest to forever subjugate the people of Palestine. Also see: Israel Provocative Stand