- Title: GAZA: Hamas cancels annual anniversary rally due to economic difficulties
- Date: 15th December 2013
- Summary: GAZA CITY, GAZA (DECEMBER 15, 2013) (REUTERS) GAZA STREET (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) HEDAR ABED, GAZA RESIDENT, SAYING: "The people highly appreciate that (Hamas cancelled its anniversary events), and we hope that all the national parties will unite and cancel the celebrations and meetings that do not help their people." HAMAS BANNER IN STREET MORE OF STREET
- Embargoed: 30th December 2013 12:00
- Location: Gaza
- Country: Palestinian Territories
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVACQ3OU035XUY3UXZPATJ1YYMXK
- Story Text: For the first time since 1995, Hamas decided to cancel the annual celebrations of its founding because of the "difficult living conditions" in Gaza, the group's spokesman said on Sunday (December 15).
The cancellation was decided "in acknowledgement of the difficult conditions our people are living in," Hamas said in a statement.
''The Hamas movement takes into consideration the difficult situation in Gaza and the case of the Palestinians, so it made a wise and bold decision to cancel all the activities related to its 26th anniversary and to make its leadership, organisations and people busy with helping the people in Gaza and the people in the refugee camps and those afflicted. Gaza is facing a real disaster and there is a crime against humanity, against Gaza and the Palestinian people because Gaza is under siege from the land, sea and air," Gaza spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.
Under years of Israeli sanctions, Gazan businessmen have cobbled together a smuggling-fueled economy that sustained the enclave under rule by Hamas Islamists. But with the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood, a Hamas ally, in Egypt and the tightening of the blockade by the new military-backed Egyptian government, many Gazans say they have never had it so tough.
The Hamas government has lost revenue it earned from taxing the smuggling tunnels. Salaries for many of Gaza's 50,000 public servants have arrived late in the past three months.
In public, Gazans still tend to rally to Hamas, whose die-hard ethos of conflict with Israel is reinforced by the sense of siege.
In past years, tens of thousands of Hamas supporters used to attend the annual December 14 rallies celebrating the group's foundation.
Gaza resident Hedar Abed said he agreed with the cancellation.
"The people highly appreciate that (Hamas cancelled its anniversary events), and we hope that all the national parties will unite and cancel the celebrations and meetings that do not help their people," said Gaza resident Hedar Abed.
Before Egypt's tunnel crackdown, the Gaza economy had been recovering from the destruction of last year's brief war, according to local and international statistics. It grew at a rate of 12 percent in the first quarter of 2013, the World Bank said, in contrast to the Palestinian economy in the West Bank.
Founded in 1987, Hamas, an acronym for Islamist resistance movement, is an Islamist organization with ideological ties to the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt and other Arab states. It rejects peace with Israel and its crowded Gaza Strip territory has endured years of severe hardship under trade and travel restrictions enforced by Israel and Egypt.
Hamas is shunned by the West over its refusal to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept existing interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deals.
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