Gaza: Leaders of rival Palestinian factions displayed rare unity on Saturday as they marked their day of catastrophe or Al Nakba at a rally in Gaza, raising hopes of reconciliation between the two bitter rival parties.

It was the first time leaders from Hamas and the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had shared the platform at a large public gathering since Hamas seized the Gaza Strip from Fatah in a 2007 civil war.

Palestinians mark "Nakba day" on May 15, the day in 1948 when Israel declared statehood after which more than 700,000 Arabs fled or were expelled in the war that ensued.

The rally, which was organised by the much smaller Islamic Jihad group to commemorate Al Nakba's 62nd anniversary, coincided with reports of serious talks between Hamas and Fatah to find ways to resolve their differences.


Top Palestinian businessman Mounib Al Masri who has been heavily involved in recent mediation efforts, expressed cautious optimism, telling Reuters that "the coming days may result in a positive outcome but we should not expect too much".

Al Masri has been mediating between the two groups' leaders and has enlisted the support of Arab diplomats to help narrow the differences.

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