Thousands of Palestinians Launch Independence Celebrations in West Bank and Gaza Strip

Holiday declared in Palestinian Authority. For first time in five years, Fatah allowed to demonstrate in Gaza City, together with Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

About half an hour before Mahmoud Abbas's speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Ramallah's central square was still not full, with quite a few bald patches in the crowd at the southern end of the square. Several hundred celebrators had already gathered, together with policemen and security personnel, journalists and curious onlookers.