The late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, who died on November
12th, 2004, was remembered today in simultaneous rallies held in
Ramallah, Bethlehem, Gaza City, Rafah, Jenin and Beit Hanoun.

In Gaza, while thousands of people were gathered to hear speakers and commemorate the late leader, the stage collapsed at the rally, injuring thirteen Palestinians.

Other rallies in cities throughout the West Bank and Gaza also gathered thousands of participants, who spoke of Arafat's vision and commitment to the Palestinian national cause.

Ahmad Hallas, of the Fateh party, speaking at the rally in Gaza before the stage collapse, criticized Israel for its ongoing violence, particularly the killing of 19 civilians in Beit Hanoun on Wednesday, as well as the United States' veto of a measure condemning the attack in the United Nations.  He said, "The massacre is backed by the US veto, this Israeli attack on the Strip would not be possible if it were not backed with the American power of veto. Every time the Americans use it, it sends encouragement to Israel."

The Hamas movement, the long-standing rival to Arafat's Fateh party, also joined commemoration of the late President.  "The second anniversary of Arafat's death comes amidst noticeable escalation in Israel's terrorism against the Palestinian people who were further subjected to an unjust international political and economic embargo for expressing their democratic will", Fawzi Barhoum, the spokesman of Hamas in Gaza Strip, said.

And the Hamas movement, currently the ruling party in Palestine, since being elected in January, vowed to push an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Arafat's death.  Ambiguities around the death of the late President two years ago have led many Palestinians to believe he was poisoned or otherwise assassinated by Israeli special forces.