Rocking the Vote in Gaza, West Bank

(Washington Post) Molly Moore and John Ward Anderson - Mahmoud Abbas, the former prime minister, is backed by the powerful machinery of the Fatah movement, the dominant Palestinian political party, founded by Arafat. The party organizes Abbas's rallies, buses in the participants, and helps finance his television ads, billboards, and wall posters. Since two security guards were killed during a shootout at an Abbas appearance in Gaza City before the campaign began, Palestinian security forces have inundated his campaign routes and rallies. The campaigns have energized and captivated Palestinians, who have embraced Sunday's vote as an opportunity to reform a government they have long criticized as corrupt, inefficient, and unresponsive. Abbas was endorsed by the Fatah movement's armed wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which has waged a deadly campaign of suicide bombings against Israelis. On Wednesday in Hebron, 15 miles south of Jerusalem, Abbas looked slightly scared and bewildered as he was jostled by surging crowds whipped into a clapping, cheering, chanting frenzy. "We are the brigades! We are its people!" the crowd yelled. "To Jerusalem we march - martyrs by the millions!" they hollered, repeating a phrase often used by Arafat.

2005-01-07 00:00:00

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