Ismail Haniyeh (L) and Yahya Sinwar (R).
(photo credit: SAID KHATIB / AFP)
Palestinian activists said on Tuesday that they will continue to protest against the high cost of living and bad economic situation in the Gaza Strip, despite Hamas’s tough measures against the protesters.
The activists declared a general strike in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday and Thursday, and called for civil disobedience against Hamas. They urged Palestinians to gather at public squares throughout the Strip to continue the protest, which is being held under the banner “We Want to Live!”
The activists called on protesters to bang on pots during the afternoon demonstrations and to whistle from their homes in the evening until their demands are fulfilled.
The protests, which began last Thursday, appeared to have subsided in the past two days.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip said Hamas’s tough measures, including the arrest of hundreds of activists, were the main reason why the protests had died down.
Hamas has accused its rivals in Fatah of trying to hijack the protests in order to turn them into a coup against the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip. The group has arrested dozens of Fatah officials and activists on suspicion of involvement in the protests.
On Tuesday evening the IDF has struck several targets in the Gaza Strip, in a response to the renewed launching of incendiary balloons from the Strip into Israeli territory, the IDF reported.
Balloon terrorism has returned in recent weeks with several launches at communities in the Gaza vicinity. One incendiary balloon was reported to have been found in the Eshkol Regional Council on Tuesday. Residents reported the incident to security personnel, and an examination conducted on the ground found the balloon not to be a threat. A message in Arabic was attached to the balloon.
On Monday, Fatah accused Hamas gunmen of kidnapping and badly beating Atef Abu Seif, a senior Fatah official in the coastal enclave. Hamas has denied responsibility, saying its security forces have launched an investigation into the incident.
Abu Seif was the second senior Fatah official in the Strip to be targeted in the past week. Earlier, another Fatah official, Ahmed Hillis, said that he survived an assassination attempt when unidentified gunmen opened fire at his vehicle in the center of Gaza.
The PA government in Ramallah on Tuesday strongly condemned the “murderous assault” on Abu Seif and several Palestinian journalists, saying that Hamas was fully responsible for these “crimes.”
On Monday night, Hamas security forces arrested another journalist – Abdullah Subuh. Sources in the Strip said that Subuh, who is suffering from heart disease and needs constant medical treatment, is affiliated with deposed Fatah official Mohammed Dahlan, an arch-rival of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Fatah officials claimed on Tuesday that Hamas has banned physicians and workers at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City from entering the hospital with their mobile phones. The move, officials claimed, was designed to prevent the hospital staff from using their mobile phones to take pictures of Palestinians who were wounded during clashes with Hamas security forces in the past few days.
Hussein al-Sheikh, a senior Fatah official, said that his faction fully supports the Gaza protesters and their demands. He accused Hamas of using repressive and brutal measures to suppress the protesters, noting that many Fatah officials and activists have been arrested and tortured by Hamas security forces.
According to Sheikh, the Hamas crackdown on Fatah members in the Gaza Strip was part of an effort to divert attention from the growing protests against Hamas. “This is an intifada of the oppressed and hungry,” he said. “Fatah supports this popular movement.”
Tayseer Khaled, a member of the PLO Executive Committee and a senior official with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), launched a scathing attack on Hamas on Tuesday, saying that its actions were similar to those of the Gestapo – the official secret police of Nazi Germany, notorious for its brutal methods and operations.
In a post on Facebook, Khaled said that Hamas’s crackdown on Palestinians protesting poverty and unemployment, as well as the assault on Fatah’s Abu Seif, resemble those of the “Gestapo gangs.”
“This is not the way Palestinian security forces or Palestinian militias act or should act with Palestinian citizens,” he added. “What we are witnessing in the Gaza Strip these days is not normal behavior; rather, this is the way fascist organizations and security forces behave.”
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