Hamas is opposed to public demonstrations against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and has broken up demonstrations in favor of the Syrian opposition, pan-Arab Asharq Alawsat reported Saturday.
According to the report, Hamas security forces "forcefully" dispersed a pro-Syrian opposition protest in Gaza City just days before Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh is expected to head to Iran.
Hamas forces also arrested the head of a group spearheading the pro-Syrian opposition protest movement in Gaza, Al-Sheikh Yasser Abu Houli. The Salafist group, "Ibn Baz," runs under the banner "support from the people of Palestine for the oppressed people of Syria," according to the newspaper.
According to an unnamed Palestinian source, Hamas had encouraged protest leaders in the Strip to carry out their support of the Syrian opposition less visibly, and to avoid media coverage. Perhaps wary of the Gaza leadership's political bureau in Syria, Hamas is trying to maintain a neutral position on the Syria issue, the report said.