Sea of Palestinians converge in Gaza's Katiba Park to mark 58th anniversary of founding of Fatah party, whose leaders seek reconciliation between Palestine's factions in the face of most right-wing government in Israel's history.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have thronged a Gaza City park to mark the 58th anniversary of the founding of the Fatah party, a rare show of support in the the Palestinian enclave governed by Hamas and besieged by Israel.
The crowds turned Katiba Park on Saturday into a sea of yellow flags and pictures of Fatah founders and leaders, including Palestine's President Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat.
Hamas, which took over and governs Gaza after routing pro-Abbas forces in 2007, permitted Fatah to hold the rally.
In an address to the crowd, Fatah's Gaza chief, Ahmed Helles, called for reconciliation between the Palestinian factions following the swearing in on Thursday of the most right-wing government in Israel's history.
The new coalition led by Benjamin Netanyahu "will go as other racist governments have gone and our people will remain," Helles said.
"The time has come to achieve national reconciliation."
Fatah spokesperson Monther al-Hayek told the AFP news agency that it was time for Palestinian "national unity to confront Netanyahu's extremist government."
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Deal in Algeria
Both Palestinian factions recently signed an agreement in Algeria aimed at resolving 15 years of discord by holding elections within a year after months of talks mediated by the North African country.
The division between Palestinian factions, triggered after Hamas won a legislative election in 2006, has prevented any further elections since then.
The deal inked in Algeria also recognised the Palestine Liberation Organisation, of which Abbas is the head, as the sole representative of the Palestinian people, and called for elections to its national council within a year.
Crippling Israeli blockade
The 2.3 million residents of Gaza live under a crippling Israel blockade, from land, sea and air, that critics say amounts to collective punishment.
Founded by Arafat and other leaders in 1959, Fatah announced its birth when it launched the first armed attack against Israel from Lebanon on January 1, 1965.
In the 1990s, however, Arafat signed a peace deal with Israel and the Palestinian Authority was created to administer Gaza and parts of the occupied West Bank.
Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza during the 1967 Middle East War. It annexed the entire East Jerusalem city in 1980.
Palestine sees East Jerusalem, along with Gaza, as part of its country with East Jerusalem being the capital.
Under international law, the West Bank and East Jerusalem are "occupied territories" and all Jewish settlement-building activities on the land are illegal.
Palestinians accuse Israel of waging an aggressive campaign to "Judaise" the historic city by effacing its Palestinian Arab and Islamic identity and driving out its Palestinian inhabitants.
Almost 500,000 illegal Israeli settlers live in over 130 settlements dotting the occupied West Bank alongside nearly three million Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation.
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