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Gaza police beat female activists

Nov. 6, 2012 6:55 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 7, 2012 10:08 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas police officers beat women demonstrating in Gaza City on Tuesday during a protest demanding national reconciliation.

The protest, organized by women's organizations including the general union of Palestinian women, was held outside the parliament building.

Iktimal Hamad, a member of the union's secretariat, told Ma'an that police ordered protesters to leave the area.

"Women refused to leave, because this is a right for every human being to express their opinions and demand their rights," Hamad told Ma'an.

"We were verbally insulted and hit by fists and sticks. Police tried to arrest some of us but despite that we will continue with our campaign which calls for ending the division," she added.

Journalist Samya al-Zubeidi said female police officers hit her and ordered her to stop filming.

"They beat me up, in addition to female police officers, (male) police officers also attacked women protesters," al-Zubeidi told Ma'an.

Nawal Zaqout said the protest was part of a women's campaign demanding reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, as well as adherence to national principles including the right of refugees to return and the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

"We informed the Ministry of Interior about the place and time of the protest and we were surprised to be attacked," said Zaquot, who is a coordinator of the campaign.

Interior ministry spokesman Islam Shahwan told Ma'an the incident was being investigated.

Shahwan said freedom of expression was guaranteed for all Palestinians as long as it didn't harm public security. He added that all groups must notify the ministry 24 hours before holding any event.

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