Thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank gathered at Yasser Arafat’s graveside on Tuesday to mark the fourth anniversary of their historic leader’s death, but no events were planned in the Gaza strip.
Palestinians from towns across the West Bank travelled to Ramallah for the ceremony brandishing national flags and Fatah banners.
The organizing committee accused Hamas of blocking its efforts to arrange any commemoration in the coastal territory which Hamas seized in June last year from forces loyal to Arafat’s secular Fatah movement.
Arafat’s successor as Fatah leader and Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, was due to give a speech at his political headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah where Arafat is buried.
The ceremony was to be broadcast live by Palestinian television, which aired songs to Arafat’s glory through the morning.
Last year, a massive memorial rally in Gaza was marred by violence when Hamas police opened fire on the crowd, killing eight people and wounding 130.
Arafat died in a French hospital on November 11, 2004 at the age of 75.
The precise cause of his death remains unknown but several Palestinian leaders and some of his family members have charged that he was poisoned by Israel, which they deny.
"Every day there are statements and clues about the elimination of Arafat and every day we draw closer to the poisoning theory," Nasser al-Qidwa, a nephew of the late Palestinian leader, said.
"In a year or two, the nature of the poison administered to Yasser Arafat and the procedure used will be known," said Qidwa, who heads the Yasser Arafat foundation.
"In any case, Israel is responsible for his death. There were preparations to get rid of the political leadership of the Palestinian people."
(Alarabiya.net and AFP)