November 11, 2010 - 1:00am

Thousands of people began gathering at the Palestinian Authority's headquarters in Ramallah on Thursday to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the death of their leader, Yasser Arafat.

More were expected to arrive, as supporters of Arafat's Fatah movement were being bused in from all over the West Bank to the Mukata'a headquarters in the central city.

Many wore black shirts and the checkered Arab headdress that was one of Arafat's trademarks, waved Fatah and Palestinian flags, and held up portraits of the legendary leader, as members of the party's youth movement marched and chanted: "We are Fatah soldiers."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was scheduled to address the crowd around noon.

Arafat, who spearheaded the Palestinian cause for some four decades, died on November 11, 2004 in a Paris hospital at the age of 75. He had suffered a stomach flue that led to complications, including a blood-clotting disorder and a stroke.

Suspicions that Israel poisoned Arafat prevail among Palestinians, although his Paris hospital records state that no traces of toxins, nor an enlarged liver or kidneys, were found.

The Palestinian leader spent his last two years under siege in his Mukata'a headquarters, after being declared an "obstacle to peace" by Israel for his simultaneous support of armed attacks and of peace negotiations. He was flown out to Paris after falling ill.

Report: Hamas breaks private Arafat memorial in Gaza

A Palestinian lawmaker says Hamas police have broken up a private screening of a film about Yasser Arafat on the sixth anniversary of the iconic leader's death.

Ashraf Jumma says police threatened to seize a screen and a VCR on Thursday and arrested some of the more than two dozen attendees. Police also detained journalists, watched footage from the event and made them promise not to air it.

Hamas officials could not be reached for comment.

Hamas has banned public commemoration of Arafat's death since it seized control of Gaza in 2007 from forces loyal to Arafat's successor, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas, the radical Islamist movement that is Fatah's arch rival, banned commemoration events in the Gaza Strip, which it controls.


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