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Hamas Rally Celebrates 23rd Anniversary

Palestinian Hamas supporters wave green Islamic flags during a rally to mark the 23rd anniversary of the group's founding in Gaza City, 14 Dec 2010

Thousands of Hamas supporters rallied in Gaza City Tuesday to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the Palestinian militant group.

Supporters draped the Hamas flag on cars and buildings, while some burned Israeli flags.

Organizers erected a large replica of Jerusalem's gold-capped Dome of the Rock in Kateeba Square, as Hamas leaders vowed to destroy Israel and retake the holy city.

Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the West. Hamas won an political upset in 2006 and took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after its fighters ousted rival Fatah members from the area.

Gaza is reeling from high employment, hard economic times and an Israeli-imposed blockade. The ruling Hamas government is financially-strapped.

Despite its militant rhetoric, Hamas has carried out very few terrorist attacks since a crushing Israeli offensive that ended in unilateral ceasefires two years ago.

Israel says it launched the Gaza offensive in December 2008 to stop cross-border rocket attacks by Palestinian militants. Three weeks of fighting killed at least 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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