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Gaza govt bans protest rally against UNRWA arson

May 24, 2010 2:53 P.M. (Updated: May 25, 2010 12:37 P.M.)
Gaza – Ma'an – The Gaza government has banned a protest rally against the vandalizing of an UNRWA recreation facility one day prior on Monday, and the holding of a human rights workshop in the coastal enclave, groups said.

The NGO's network said "de facto security forces prevented a civil society protest heading toward the UNRWA camp that was burned down yesterday."

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights quickly denounced the move. Mustafa Ibrahim, a jurist on the commission, said that the workshop was supposed to take place in Grand Palace Hotel at 11am on rights and freedoms in Palestine, and to discuss the commission's annual report.

Ibrahim said the hotel had informed them that the management had received a phone call forbidding the workshop from taking place.

The decision to bar the events, Ibrahim said, was an unprecedented and an interference in the work of human rights organizations, adding that NGOs are not required to obtain a permit or seek the government's permission to hold workshops.

On Monday, a group of 30 armed and masked men attacked and set fire to an UNRWA recreation facility on Gaza City's beach front on Sunday, the UN body said in a statement.

The location is one of 35 beach facilities under construction, which will form part of UNRWA’s annual Summer Games program for over 250,000 refugee children in Gaza, due to commence on 12 June, the statement read.

UNRWA’s Director of Operations in Gaza, John Ging, condemned the incident, calling it "vandalism linked to extremism and an attack on the happiness of children." He went on to reassure parents and the children of Gaza that “UNRWA will not be intimidated by such acts and will quickly rebuild the location in good time to host the Summer Games.”
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