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GAZA 14 Dec 2012 Hamas supporters rally for 25th anniversary
The rally for the 25th anniversary of Hamas, one of the two main Palestinian political groups, could bring hundreds of thousands of support

December 14, 2012 - NULL

GAZA 14 Dec 2012 Hamas supporters rally for 25th anniversary
The rally for the 25th anniversary of Hamas, one of the two main Palestinian political groups, could bring hundreds of thousands of supporters into the streets of Gaza City. The mood could be angrier than usual because of a host of crises, which include the closing of the briefly-open Rafah border crossing into Egypt and a massive power outage. Egypt is likely to be reviled at the rally along with Israel.

Mohamed Morsi opened the Rafah crossing, the only gateway to the world for Gazans that is not controlled

GAZA 14 Dec 2012 Hamas supporters rally for 25th anniversary
The rally for the 25th anniversary of Hamas, one of the two main Palestinian political groups, could bring hundreds of thousands of supporters into the streets of Gaza City. The mood could be angrier than usual because of a host of crises, which include the closing of the briefly-open Rafah border crossing into Egypt and a massive power outage. Egypt is likely to be reviled at the rally along with Israel.

Mohamed Morsi opened the Rafah crossing, the only gateway to the world for Gazans that is not controlled by Israel, soon after becoming president of Egypt on Jun 30. In the wake of a deadly Aug 5 attack on Egyptian troops in northern Sinai, with Morsi suspecting Gaza involvement, he closed the crossing. AFP also reports that Egypt has also shut down the network of smuggling tunnels under the Gaza border, the main supply for Gazans of essentials like food and fuel. The Gaza power crisis was sparked by a fall in supplies of fuel smuggled in from Egypt, according to AFP, forcing the closure of the coastal territory's sole power plant and causing power cuts of up to 18 hours a day.

The older crises include Israel's massive 22-day offensive over New Year 2009, the ongoing Israeli blockade, periodic military offensives by Israel and the cash flow and salary crisis caused by international sanctions on Hamas. The West deems the organization a terrorist group for its refusal to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept existing interim Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements.

The organization was founded in the 1970s when Islamic activists affiliated with the pan-Muslim Brotherhood movement established a network of charities, clinics and schools and became active in territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War -- the Gaza Strip and West Bank. In 2006, Hamas won a majority of seats in parliamentary elections, but it never took control of the Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, a member of Fatah, the main rival party. Hamas has been in nominal control of the Gaza Strip since Jun 2007 following its seizure of power from Fatah gunmen in a series of bloody clashes. Fatah retains control of the West Bank. The two Palestinian entities have since made a faltering peace, but there has been no discernible change in government in either enclave.

Later in 2006, Israel declared the Gaza strip under Hamas a hostile territory and approved sanctions that included power cuts, heavily restricted imports and border closures. There has been some easing of the attacks from both sides, but none on the sanctions.

The hardship on Gazans caused by the continuing sanctions eased for a few weeks after Morsi's opening of the Rafah crossing. If the crossing and tunnels haven't opened again by the anniversary, the anniversary celebration might become a protest demonstration on a scale that will draw another Israeli offensive. (WRITTEN AUG 2012)

RELATED READING:

Hamas PR campaign hits roadblock after Sinai attack (AFP 16 Aug 2012)

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5igsmHyFojfPJWK-hLhXe-B-qzCWA?docId=CNG.0a0933c1a0c7e96df0d86749bf553c1a.671

Hamas at the crossroads (Al Ahram Weekly 16 Aug 2012)

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2012/1111/op5.htm

Hamas (NYT 21 May 2012)

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/h/hamas/index.html

Hamas anniversary: Ismail Haniya addresses Gaza rally (BBC 14 Dec 2010)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11993166

Date written/update: 2012-12-14