Archive for Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hamas supporters flock to celebrate founding

December 16, 2007

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— Palestinians flooded the streets of the Gaza Strip by the tens of thousands Saturday in the biggest show of support for Hamas since the Islamic militants seized the territory in June.

Leader Ismail Haniyeh vowed in speeches on the 20th anniversary of the movement's founding that Hamas will not compromise its hardline views despite growing isolation, poverty and popular support for the rival West Bank government of President Mahmoud Abbas.

Since Hamas wrested control from Abbas' Fatah forces, Gaza's 1.5 million residents have been virtually cut off from the outside world, with Israel and Egypt refusing to fully reopen crossings with the coastal territory. Unemployment has risen to about 50 percent, forcing poverty up to 75 percent, Palestinian officials say.

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