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Hamas, Fatah battle over Palestinian public opinion

In one deadly protest at the outset of the demonstrations planned for the coming weeks, Hamas has succeeded in positioning itself as a victim.
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Organizers of the “Great Return March” in the Gaza Strip had set themselves a goal of drawing at least 100,000 Palestinian protesters to the border with Israel on March 30. They even dubbed the event misleadingly "March of the Million" — not that anyone thought a million Gazans would show up, but the idea was to scare Israel and infuse the demonstration with a sense of history in the making. The masses marching from all corners of Gaza were also supposed to provide a powerful display of force proving to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the people of Gaza were with his rival Hamas.

Planning for the march began in December, when US President Donald Trump announced US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Hamas wanted to prove to the roughly 1.8 million Palestinians under its control that its protest against the United States and Israel is louder and more effective than Abbas’. Hamas' display of force was meant to build up to a massive turnout on May 15, Nakba Day, a day after the planned inauguration of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

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