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Hamas Arrests Dozens of Protesters in Gaza

Hamas Arrests Dozens of Protesters in Gaza

Monday, 18 March, 2019 - 12:45
Protest in Gaza. (Photo: AFP)
Ramallah - Kifah Zboun
Fierce clashes have erupted between Hamas movement forces and hundreds of demonstrators protesting the high cost of living in the Gaza Strip and taxes on basic products.

Since Thursday, hundreds of Palestinians have taken to the streets in multiple locations throughout the enclave. But the movement has cracked down on protesters, using force to disperse them and arresting dozens, including journalists and human rights activists.

Fatah movement accused Hamas of targeting and storming the houses of its members and threatening their families.

Hamas forces have also stormed al-Azhar University in the Strip and arrested a number of students.

In a statement, the university stressed that faculties are for studying and education, demanding respect for the sanctity of educational institutions.

Among those arrested was director of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) in Gaza Rafat al-Qudra.

In a statement, the Corporation said Hamas had kidnapped the station’s director and “crossed all red lines,” calling for the immediate release of Qudra and all detainees, especially journalists.

The Journalists Syndicate said it had documented 36 violations by Hamas members against journalists in the Palestinian enclave in the past two days.

The syndicate said in a statement on Sunday that since the start of the protests, 17 demonstrators were arrested and only 10 were released. Four required hospitalization.

It said it had documented instances where security forces had beaten journalists and had confiscated their cellphones and equipment.

The union registered six summonses, four cases of intimidation, and two house arrests for four days. It condemned the Hamas crackdown, especially the arrest of Osama al-Kahlout who was beaten by the security forces and held for four days.

The Palestinian Authority also made a condemnation, saying it backed all Palestinian factions, except for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, in their demands as part of the “We Want to Live” movement launched by activists.

The UN Mideast envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, denounced the arrests and use of violence “against protesters, including women and children, in Gaza over the past three days.”

He warned he was “particularly alarmed by the brutal beating” of journalists and staff from the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) and the raiding of homes.

“The long-suffering people of Gaza were protesting the dire economic situation and demanded an improvement in the quality of life in the Gaza Strip”, said the Special Coordinator, adding that it was their right to protest without fear of reprisal.

“The United Nations will continue its efforts to avoid escalation, relieve the suffering of people in Gaza, lift the closures, and support reconciliation.”

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