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Fatah Celebration to be Held in Hamas-Controlled Gaza

In what is being construed as a sign of reconciliation between the rival factions, the Hamas-government that controls the Gaza Strip is allowing Fatah to hold a celebration of its 48th anniversary in a key Gaza location on January 4. It was initially believed that permission to gather in Gaza City’s Al-Saraya Square would be denied, but preparations are clearly underway for the event which is expected to draw thousands of revelers. Underscoring the conciliatory image, Hamas leaders have been asked to share in the celebration by addressing the crowd and heads of other factions will also be present. Fatah, which was created by Yassir Arafat in 1965, has about 5,000 members living in the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, building materials previously banned from entering the Gaza Strip are being allowed in through the Rafah crossing point according to an Egyptian official. It’s the first time since Hamas took over Gaza in 2007 and Israel banned materials that could be used militarily have been permitted. Hamas has been hopeful that the Morsi government in Egypt, which controls the Rafah crossing, would be more sympathetic toward fellow Islamists in Hamas that former President Mubarak was. The material being allowed in is being sent by Qatar but according to an official, but does not mark a full opening of the border.