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Hamas apologizes after police beat female activists

Nov. 7, 2012 10:07 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 8, 2012 1:49 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Hamas government in Gaza apologized on Wednesday after reports emerged of security forces attacking female activists in Gaza City on Tuesday, a statement said.

"The government clearly apologizes for what has happened, and the Ministry of Interior will form a commission of inquiry to determine the circumstances of the incident, because what happened does not reflect the culture of the government or the Palestinian people," director of Hamas' media office Ehab al-Ghusein said.

A protest, organized by women's organizations including the general union of Palestinian women, was held outside the parliament building on Tuesday to demand national reconciliation.

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.

Interior ministry spokesman Islam Shahwan told Ma'an that 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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