Hamas’ massive missile bombardment of Israel has brought the rival faction into unity despite Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ claims he is against terror.
Leaders of the two factions, once united but later divided, told an AFP reporter Monday they have decided to end infighting in a show of solidarity of Arabs in Judea and Samaria.
"From here, we announce with other (factional) leaders, that we are ending the division," senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub told a crowd of about 1,000 who gathered for a demonstration in Ramallah, the headquarters of Abbas and located five miles north of Jerusalem.
Among those present at the rally were top members of Hamas' leadership in Judea and Samaria as well as senior officials from its smaller rival Islamic Jihad, the AFP correspondent said.
Ramallah's Manara Square was a sea of Palestinian flags as the crowd chanted "Unity!" and "Hit, hit Tel Aviv" in an appeal to Hamas terrorists who have fired at least five rockets at the coastal city since Thursday.
"Whoever speaks about the division after today is a criminal," top Hamas leader Mahmud al-Ramahi told the crowd.
The announced unity disproves claims by Abbas and the United States that the Palestinian Authority regime has been trying to eliminate terror in Judea and Samaria.
Fatah and Hamas, the two main Palestinian national factions, have been locked in a bitter dispute for years.
But the ongoing bloodshed in Hamas-controlled Gaza, where Israel was on Monday pressing a sixth day of Operation Pillar of Defense, appears to have prompted a rethink of traditional rivalries.
Gaza's Hamas-run government has long been at loggerheads with the rival Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria. and a unity deal struck between the two in April 2011, fell apart as the two bickered over the formation of a caretaker cabinet Hamas ousted Fatah leaders from Gaza four years ago in a bloody militia war.