GAZA CITY: Tens of thousands of Palestinians turned out for a rally in the Gaza Strip on Friday to mark the 23rd anniversary of the founding of the hardline group Islamic Jihad.
Crowds waving the movement’s black banners filled Kuteiba Square in Gaza City, where senior officials were expected to speak beneath massive portraits of assassinated commanders, an AFP correspondent reported.
The armed group, which is smaller and more radical than the Islamist Hamas movement ruling the territory, carried out several suicide bombings inside Israel during the 2000-2005 Palestinian uprising.
In more recent years it was behind many of the near-daily rocket attacks fired from Gaza that prompted Israel to launch a devastating offensive against the territory in December 2008.
It has pointedly refused to take part in a Hamas-declared period of calm since the end of the offensive in January 2009.
The 22-day Israeli operation killed some 1,400 Palestinians and flattened entire neighborhoods of Gaza. Thirteen Israelis were killed in the fighting.
Both Islamic Jihad and Hamas are sworn to the destruction of Israel, but they sometimes differ on tactics.
Since the Gaza war ended, Islamic Jihad has accused Hamas on a number of occasions of arresting its members and of trying to prevent them from firing rockets.