Agence France Presse (AFP)
November 10, 2009 - 1:00am

The Islamist Hamas movement ruling Gaza has banned all public commemoration of Yasser Arafat's death this year, officials with the rival secular Fatah group said on Tuesday.

Wednesday will mark five years since Arafat, the revered Palestinian leader and founder of Fatah, died in a Paris military hospital at the age of 75.

"The (Hamas) internal security forces have summoned dozens members of the (Fatah) movement in the Gaza Strip to tell them that all commemoration of Abu Ammar's (Arafat's) death has been banned," a senior Fatah official told AFP.

Hamas interior ministry spokesman Ihab al-Ghussein denied the allegations, saying "the ministry has not prevented anyone because it has not heard of any activities for the anniversary."

But an owner of a printing shop in Gaza told AFP the Islamists ordered him not to print any photos of Arafat ahead of Wednesday.

"Interior security forces came yesterday and demanded that we not print any photos of the deceased president or any Fatah slogans without prior permission from the interior ministry," he said on condition of anonymity.

Hamas seized power in Gaza in June 2007, ousting forces loyal to Fatah and splitting the Palestinians into two warring camps.

The home of Arafat was looted during the takeover and, in 2007, seven people were killed when Hamas-run security forces opened fire on a mass rally to honour the departed leader on the third anniversary of his death.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017