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Fatah protest against Hamas ends in clashes

Fatah protest against Hamas ends in clashes

A protest by Fatah supporters against Hamas rule turned violent Friday when Hamas men began forcefully dispersing the crowd, firing in the air and beating demonstrators.
Some 20 people were wounded in the clashes, including two French journalists and two children, according to doctors and witnesses.
AP staff covering the protests witnessed the beating of two journalists by Hamas supporters. Both were not seriously hurt.
The violence began at the end of a Fatah prayer meeting held in the open to protest against Hamas, which seized control of the coastal territory in June. A similar protest last Friday also ended in clashes and harassment of journalists.
Fatah had called its supporters to hold weekly Friday prayers in the open throughout the Gaza Strip to protest against what they said was persecution of its members in Hamas-controlled mosques.
After hundreds of Fatah supporters finished prayers in Gaza City, a group of worshippers pelted Hamas-controlled buildings with stones and pipe bombs. Some shouted insults at Hamas officials, including "Shiites," in reference to the group's links to Iran.
Hamas men began firing into the air to disperse the crowd. In a frenzy, Hamas security forces then began arresting protesters and taking them away in jeeps, chasing them in the streets and also beating several demonstrators. AP Television News footage showed several uniformed Hamas men beating an unarmed protester with long sticks.
A similar protest in Rafah broke up when Hamas men fired in the air. Stun grenades also landed amid the crowd, injuring the two children.
A statement from President Mahmoud Abbas' office in Ramallah said the crackdown on protesters "aims to impose a blind dictatorship and an extremist culture that contradicts the values of our people and their heritage."
"The events in the Gaza Strip prove to everyone that the (Hamas) coup is nearing its end. Our heroic people in Gaza will not be terrorized by these mercenaries," the statement said.
Hamas men in civilian clothes also joined the uniformed forces in dispersing the protest, beating protesters with sticks.
A small explosion from an unknown source injured two French journalists, one in his leg and the other on her hand. Neither injury was considered serious. A Hamas security spokesman said stun grenades and pipe bombs were used by the protesters.
Ihab al-Ghusain, the Hamas security spokesman, said "rioting is unacceptable in the law ... they had to be contained in anyway possible, according to the law."
After the clashes, heavily armed Hamas security agents entered AP's offices in Gaza City and instructed staff not to film or photograph a nearby security building from the balcony without prior permission.
Saber Khalifa, a Hamas security spokesman, said his force was rounding up "subverters." He didn't have a number of those arrested.
A Fatah official in Gaza said 25 men were rounded up.


Updated : 2021-04-23 05:40 GMT+08:00