Palestinian riot 298.88.
(photo credit: Ahmad Gharabli )
Bodyguards for Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh opened fire outside the Gaza City parliament building Monday, trying to clear the way for him through a group of jobless protesters, police said.
At least one woman, Jihan Sirsawi, a spokeswoman for the protesters, was hurt in the melee, police and demonstrators said.
Poverty and unemployment have skyrocketed in Gaza in recent months after international sanctions made it impossible for the Hamas government to pay its 165,000 employees. Without paychecks for six months, workers have shown increasing signs of frustration in recent weeks, launching demonstrations and widespread strikes.
Haniyeh, a leader of the Islamic militant Hamas, was approaching the building for a Cabinet meeting when he was blocked by dozens of protesters. His bodyguards then opened fire to disperse the crowd, police said. Reporters heard the gunfire and saw a woman being taken away by ambulance.
After the shooting, Haniyeh's vehicle moved slowly through the chaotic mob, as security guards lay on the hood of the car. One black-clad gunman stood above the crowd, holding his weapon in the air.
As Haniyeh stepped out of the car, more gunfire broke out. Under heavy guard, Haniyeh moved slowly up the steps of the building, smiling and turning back to wave to the crowd. He did not speak to the protesters.
The protesters said they had blocked the four entrances leading from the square into the building in an attempt to force Haniyeh to talk to them.
Later, another group of female protesters blocked other cars entering the area, and the Hamas bodyguards shoved them out of the way, pushing at least one woman to the floor, witnesses said. "Infidels, infidels," the women shouted.