Tens of thousands mark Arafat death anniversary in Gaza

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Fatah supporters wave the party flag as they take part in a rally in Gaza City on Saturday, November 11, 2017, marking the death anniversary of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. (FP / MAHMUD HAMS)
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Palestinians wave yellow Fatah movement flags during a rally in Gaza City on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, to mark the 13th anniversary of the death of Fatah founder and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Updated 11 November 2017
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Tens of thousands mark Arafat death anniversary in Gaza

GAZA CITY: Tens of thousands of Gaza Palestinians marked the 13th anniversary of the Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s death on Saturday for the first time since the Islamic Hamas group seized the territory a decade ago.
In the wake of a brewing reconciliation between Hamas and the Fatah party Arafat founded, Fatah supporters flocked to Al-Saraya Square in Gaza City from all over the coastal enclave to commemorate the event, waving their yellow flag, raising posters of Arafat and donning his trademark kaffiyeh headgear.
Arafat died in 2004 at a hospital in France after two years of an Israeli siege on his West Bank headquarters. Palestinians accuse Israel of poisoning him but offer no proof, adding to the mystery surrounding the death.
After winning legislative elections in 2006, Hamas forces violently overthrew Fatah in Gaza the following year. The commemoration comes amid improving relationships between Fatah and Hamas, a month after the two rivals signed a deal in Egypt paving the way to end the Palestinian internal divide.
Under the deal, Hamas would cede control of Gaza to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority after a decade of unilateral rule by the Islamic movement.
“The accurate implementation of the deal and the full empowering of the government will surely lead to easing the suffering and reviving hope of a better future for all of us,” President Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat’s successor, told the crowd in a prerecorded speech from his West Bank headquarters.
Earlier this month, Hamas transferred control at Gaza’s crossing points with Israel and Egypt to the Fatah-led Palestinians Authority, implementing the first part of the Egyptian-brokered reconciliation. Talks will continue in Cairo in ten days to discuss broader issues.
A sticking point has been the vast arsenal of rockets, attack tunnels and explosives that Hamas and smaller groups in Gaza possess. In his speech, Abbas reiterated his firm stance that he wants “one authority, one law and one legitimate weapon” in Gaza. Hamas vows not to disarm.
In November 2007, months after Hamas took over Gaza following a week of bloody fighting, Fatah organized a rally to mark Arafat’s death, but it ended with clashes between Fatah supporters and armed Hamas forces, in which seven civilians were killed.
Saturday’s event ended peacefully after two hours of speeches and people swaying to patriotic songs blaring from huge loudspeakers.
Not all participants belonged to Fatah. Some of them came because they missed the sort of unity that prevailed during Arafat’s reign. “Arafat is for all the Palestinians,” said Ashraf Hamouda, 34.


Fuzzy crab, shiny-eyed shrimp discovered on Java expedition

Updated 10 min 3 sec ago
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Fuzzy crab, shiny-eyed shrimp discovered on Java expedition

SINGAPORE: A hermit crab, a shiny-eyed shrimp and a crab with fuzzy spines are among over a dozen new species discovered in a deep-sea expedition off the Indonesian island of Java, scientists said.
The team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) carried out the expedition for 14 days between March and early April.
The area covered included a long stretch of the Indian Ocean off Java’s southern coast as well as the Sunda Strait that separates the island from Sumatra.
“This is a part of the Indian Ocean that has been never been sampled for deep-sea animals so we really didn’t know what to find,” said Peter Ng, a crab expert and head of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at NUS.
“We were very surprised by the findings,” he said on Thursday, adding that the team had expected to discover creatures from the Indian Ocean and the surrounding areas already known to scientists.
But the discovery of species entirely new to science “tells us that there are things happening in that part of Indonesia that we don’t know,” said Ng, who co-led the expedition.
The researchers examined 63 sites as they sailed from Jakarta to Cilacap town in southern Java and back.
Three new species of spider crabs were discovered during the expedition, the scientists said in a statement.
One of them had a plate protecting its eyes which resembled oversized ears while another was bright orange in color.
Another discovery was a new species of hermit crab with bright green eyes, according to Indonesian scientist Dwi Listyo Rahayu, also a crab expert and the expedition’s co-leader.
One new species of shrimp had shiny eyes that reflect light, the scientists said.
Ng, the NUS professor, said the scientists will carry out a detailed study of the more than 12,000 creatures from 800 species they had picked up on the expedition and publish their findings in 2020.
They expect to discover more new species as they go along, he said.
The reason they immediately identified the new species of crabs, prawns and lobsters is that the scientists involved are experts in this field, he added.