Middle East

Hamas stages first West Bank rally in five years

Thousands of Palestinians have joined the first mass rally organised by Hamas in the West Bank since 2007.

Demonstrators in the city of Nablus celebrated the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Islamist militant group, which governs the Gaza Strip.

It is the first time in five years that the Palestinian Authority (PA), which governs in the West Bank, has granted Hamas permission to hold a rally.

The move is seen as a sign that ties are improving between the two sides.

A rift developed between the PA's Fatah party and Hamas after the Islamist movement won legislative elections in 2006 and came to power in Gaza a year later.

But some observers say there have been indications that tensions between the rivals factions have eased in recent times, in particular after last month's eight-day conflict between Hamas and Israel.

Last week, Fatah leaders attended a rally by Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal, held during his first ever visit to Gaza.

In Thursday's rally, thousands of Hamas supporters took to the streets in Nablus, in the north of the territory, carrying banners reading "Hamas, you are the gun and we are the ammunition", AFP news agency reports.

Fatah leader Amin Makboul praised Hamas for its "steadfastness" in the latest clashes with Israel.

"[The] victory in Gaza was a big victory for all Palestinian people," he said at the Nablus rally.

Meanwhile, thousands of protesters in the city of Hebron joined a funeral procession held for a teenager shot dead earlier by an Israeli border guard.

Police said the boy had attacked the guard and threatened him with what later turned out to be a metal toy gun.