Hamas policemen used force on Tuesday evening to disperse hundreds of protesters
who had gathered in a public square to demand an end to the Hamas-Fatah dispute,
They said that policemen in civilian clothes beat
the protesters with clubs and destroyed tents they had set up in the Katiba
Square west of Gaza City.
Several journalists who were covering the
demonstration were also beaten by the policemen and some had their cameras
confiscated, the eyewitnesses said.
The Hamas government in Gaza had
earlier vowed to allow the demonstrations to take place, saying it supported
calls for unity.
The demonstration was one of several by Palestinians in
the West Bank and Gaza Strip calling for Palestinian unity.
the largest of their kind in many years, were part of a campaign organized by
several Palestinian political factions and youth groups.
Inspired by the
current wave of popular uprisings in a number of Arab countries, some of the
organizers used Facebook to call on Palestinians to participate in the
The demonstrators chanted slogans such as “Oh Abbas, Oh
Haniyeh, we want national unity,” “The people want to end the division,” and
“One flag, not two flags.”
Fears that Hamas and Fatah would use the
demonstrations to incite against each other proved to be unfounded as the
protesters insisted on chanting only slogans that urged the two sides to seek
In the Gaza Strip, eyewitnesses said that thousands of
Palestinians belonging to several political groups participated in the “unity”
Many of the demonstrators said that they would hold sit-in
strikes in main squares in Gaza City until Hamas and Fatah agree to end their
Hamas deployed hundreds of policemen in the city, as organizers
used megaphones on top of vehicles to call on Palestinians to join the
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, meanwhile, invited
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to an urgent meeting to discuss
reconciliation between the two sides.
Haniyeh, in a message to the
demonstrators, said he supported demands to end the division.
Palestinian government is delighted to see the masses demanding reconciliation,”
“Our government never wanted the division and did not cause
Haniyeh added that Hamas had even made concessions to end the split,
“but outside factors thwarted” the efforts.
Haniyeh called on
Palestinians to take advantage of the recent changes in the Arab world to
Hamas legislator Ismail al-Ashqar said that his movement
was serious about ending the dispute with Fatah and forming a Palestinian unity
He expressed hope that Abbas would heed Haniyeh’s call for
holding an urgent meeting to discuss ways of achieving reconciliation.
Ramallah, hundreds of youths gathered in the city’s Manara Square, chanting
slogans in favor of unity between Hamas and Fatah.
Mahmoud Taha, one of
the organizers of the Facebook campaign, said that the protesters will remain in
the square until the two parties heed their call.
“The four-year division
has hurt the Palestinians,” he said.
Abbas also voiced his support for
the campaign, saying unity is needed to end “occupation.”
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