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Tens of thousands rally in Gaza to mark Hamas anniversary

A Palestinian woman wears a headband with Arabic that reads: "No God but Allah and Muhammed is his messenger, al-Qassam Brigades" during a mass rally marking the 31st anniversary of the founding of Hamas, an Islamic political party, which has an armed wing of the same name, that currently rules in Gaza, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018, in Gaza city. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Tens of thousands of Palestinians have gathered in Gaza City for a rally marking the 31st anniversary of the militant Hamas group’s establishment.

Hamas fighters in military fatigues paraded with rockets and heavy machineguns during Sunday’s rally. The Islamist group said the large turnout reflects widespread support despite domestic and external challenges.

Gaza has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas took power in 2007.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh praised a recent series of deadly attacks against Israel in the West Bank, which is controlled by the Palestinian Authority. He said such attacks are “a response” to the anticipated American peace proposal that Palestinians believe will favor Israel.

Haniyeh also called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to meet in Gaza or Cairo to end a decade of inter-Palestinian division.

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