A demonstrator in Gaza City holds a Palestinian flag during a rally calling on rivals Hamas and Fatah to end their political division.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas security personnel on Wednesday broke up a rally held by activists in Gaza City to demand an end to the conflict between Hamas and Fatah.
Hamas plainclothes policemen used clubs to disperse the activists, who chanted slogans in favor of Palestinian unity and an end to the blockade on the Gaza Strip, witnesses said.
The policemen also detained a number of journalists and cameramen who were covering the demonstration, the witnesses said.
Activists belonging to various political groups in the Gaza Strip organized the rally under the motto “April 29 Hirak Shababi [Youth Movement].”
The gathering, which was licensed by Hamas authorities, was held in the Shejaia neighborhood in Gaza City.
Shortly after the rally began, Hamas security officers took over the podium, chanting slogans in support of their movement and denouncing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the witnesses said.
When participants tried to move the rally to a different location, they were chased by club-wielding Hamas policemen in civilian clothes, the witnesses added.
Other witnesses said the Hamas policemen fired shots into the air to scare the activists.
The activists later distributed a leaflet titled “Popular Petition” in which they called for an end to divisions among Palestinians.
“Gaza is suffering from several problems in wake of the absence of a real decision to end the crisis,” the leaflet read. “As Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, we seek a dignified life.”
The leaflet called for holding presidential, legislative, municipal and student council elections. It urged Abbas to visit the Gaza Strip and assume his responsibilities as president.
The activists called on the Egyptians to permanently reopen the Rafah border crossing. They also demanded a solution to the crisis surrounding the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of last year’s Protective Edge operation.
Hamas said the rally failed after scuffles broke out among the organizers, prompting its security personnel to intervene to restore law and order.
Eyad al-Bazam, spokesman for the Hamas Interior Ministry, said the organizers had received a license to hold the demonstration.
He said that Hamas provided all the needed facilitations to ensure that the rally was held as planned.
The spokesman said that a brawl broke out among the organizers at the end of the rally, at which point Hamas policemen were forced to intervene to stop the chaos.