Thousands celebrate Arafat's terror legacy across PA, Gaza

Arch-terrorist's memory alive and well in Palestinian Authority, as thousands turn out to celebrate his anti-Israel legacy.

David Rosenberg ,

Gaza residents memorialize Arafat
Gaza residents memorialize Arafat

Thousands of Arabs in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza turned out Thursday to mark the 13th anniversary of arch-terrorist and Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat.

Arafat, who for nearly half a century represented the face of anti-Israel terror, was lauded in mass events across the Gaza Strip, marking an end to 10-year standoff between the Hamas terror group and the Fatah movement Arafat founded and which now rules the Palestinian Authority.

This year’s anniversary of Arafat’s death is the first since last month’s much-publicized rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah, with the reconciliation between the PLO and Hamas a prominent theme at many of Thursday’s events.

"We really wanted to come this year because this is the year for reconciliation between here and Gaza," one participant, Sanaa Al-Rifai told AFP at a memorial rally.

"We hope this reconciliation will be a good start and the soul of the martyr (Arafat) will be more at peace when he sees the Palestinian people more united."

An Egyptian-born civil engineer who joined paramilitary units formed by the Muslim Brotherhood to destroy the nascent state of Israel in 1948, Arafat founded the Fatah movement in 1959, organizing terror attacks on Jewish civilians and Israeli security forces prior to the 1967 Six Day War.

As the Fatah movement consolidated power within the Palestine Liberation Organization, an umbrella group of anti-Israel terror movements, Arafat came to dominate the organization, becoming its executive committee chairman in 1969, a position he would hold until his death in 2004.

After his death at age 75 in 2004, Arafat was buried near the Muqata compound in Ramallah. Memorial rallies were held at his tomb, Thursday, and at a nearby museum built in his honor.