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Hamas calls for end to pro-unity rallies
Published Sunday 20/03/2011 (updated) 21/03/2011 10:49
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GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas on Saturday called on protesters to end pro-unity rallies in the Gaza Strip.

Over the last week, hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Gaza City demanding an end to the division between Hamas and Fatah, and their governments in Gaza and the West Bank.

The March 15 movement, a coalition of Palestinian youth groups, organized the protests, also held across the West Bank since Tuesday. Protesters say they will continue to rally until the division ends.

Demonstrators in Gaza have faced a brutal crackdown by government forces, despite assurances ahead of the rallies that the Interior Ministry would protect the youth movement.

On Monday, Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh ordered the ministry to let the rallies go ahead without interruption, his office said in a statement.

But on Tuesday, security forces raided Gaza City's Unknown Soldier Square and forcefully evacuated protesters. Activists said government forces beat people with batons and set fire to tents that were set up by the demonstrators.

In a press conference Saturday, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum accused Fatah security men and affiliates of organizing the protests.

He said the rallies were "an attempt by groups of the former security departments affiliated with Fatah and those allied with it to create chaos in the street, taking advantage of and hiding behind calls to end the division."

Pro-unity protests were a "factional conspiracy to destroy stability in Gaza and disrupt efforts to achieve conciliation," he continued.

Protest organizers, who issued calls to demonstrate on Facebook and in universities, say the movement is not affiliated to any faction, and have resisted attempts by parties to hijack the rallies. The organizers demanded that only Palestinian flags were raised at the demonstrations.

Barhoum said protesters had achieved their aim to shake up the issue of conciliation, noting that President Mahmoud Abbas announced he would visit Gaza to hold unity talks.

After Abbas' announcement, protesters in Ramallah suspended a hunger strike, but said they would resume the strike if concrete steps to follow up the initiative were not taken. Meanwhile the rallies will continue until the division ends, the youth movement says.

Barhoum said parties were "exploiting the margin of freedom that is granted to them in Gaza to disturb our internal affairs."

He urged the Ministry of Interior to restore order to the Gaza Strip and to protect the interests of its residents.

Ma'an asked Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri if the ministry was ordered to use an iron fist against peaceful protesters who had not harmed public order or property.

"A day was set for the rallies and it was a positive one and ended peacefully," Abu Zuhri said.

However the rallies should not have continued after March 15, and would bring chaos back to Gaza if they did not stop, he added.

His stance was echoed by Barhoum, who said demonstrations would harm stability in the Gaza Strip.

Barhoum said Hamas was eager to reconcile with Fatah. He said the right atmosphere must be created to ensure Abbas' visit to Gaza was successful.

The president accepted an invitation from Haniyeh to hold unity talks in Gaza on Wednesday. He has not set foot in the enclave since Hamas ousted Fatah from the Gaza Strip in fierce clashes which neared civil war in 2007.

Since then, the Palestinian territories have been effectively split in two, with Abbas's rule confined to the West Bank.
1 ) Fadel / Nablus
20/03/2011 01:13
hamas can go to hell it is one of the most worthless organizations that has acomplished absolutly nothng in the last 6 years

2 ) Ashraf / USA
20/03/2011 08:19
Qaddafi is a monster b/c he is a dictator & kills his people. Abbas & Fatah R worse b/c they collaborate wIsrael & the US (in Sa'b Erakat's own words) to "kill our own people". Yes Hamas has committed some transgressions but Fatah & the west could not accept their democratic victory. Now some nieve palestinians R calling for "unity" as if both sides r equally to blame. Throw off the collaborators in the west bank & then u can have unity.

3 ) Ashraf / USA
20/03/2011 08:27
#1 Fadel - 1) forced Sharon out of Gaza. 2) Won fair and free elections. 3) Cleared up the security situation in Gaza and thwarted the Fatah coup attempt. 4) survived the Gaza blockade and 5) they are literally cleaning up the garbage and providing services and efficiency not seen in Gaza for years. Fadel I know u want to blame Hamas but if u want to be fair blame and demonstrate against the collaborators of Fatah.

4 ) southparkbear / usa
20/03/2011 08:37
oh dear you are so wrong, gaza is a flusrishing democracy for the world to look at take a lesson

5 ) Robert Haymond / Israel/Canada
20/03/2011 10:18
We left Gaza in2005, Ashraf, long before Hamas took power. I thought that in your fulminations you'd want to get the facts straight in order to gain some small credibility in your post. Hope this helps.

6 ) Dweikat / Palestine
20/03/2011 10:22
Ashraf: nr.1 is not an achievment of Hamas it is even a zionist strategy. Nr 2 winning election is not achieving something, Hitler also won elections. Nr 3 cleared up security sitation? You mean by killing and stealing nr 4 gaza blockade is a Palestinian thing, the people survided and not Hamas nr 5 also a very tale. Where did the palestinian passport came from? Mashaal? Haniye? Or Fatah? Who worked towards regognition? Hamas or Fatah? Who are the creators of the revolution since the 60s?

7 ) David / USA
20/03/2011 10:51
Ashraf? Are you my roommate Ashraf?!

8 ) Maha / Jenin
20/03/2011 11:09
1) I second your thoughts, Fadel.
Hamas destored our Pal issue. fuck them.

9 ) Outsider / EU
20/03/2011 12:19
Hamas was voted by the voice of the people, and so should listen to the voice of the people.

10 ) Rami / Gaza
20/03/2011 15:06
9) we change our mind, plus the outgoing parliament led by hamas alas, no longer can talk in ournames.

11 ) Bob / UK
20/03/2011 17:02
Fatah collaborates, Hamas resists. There can only be unity based on resistance.

12 ) decan al nabee / lubnan
20/03/2011 17:07
who wouldn't vote for these 2 clowns?

13 ) Adeeb / Pal/Can
20/03/2011 19:36
Hamas doesn't want Palestinian unity and Netanyahu doesn't want Palestinian unity. Coincidence?

14 ) Ashraf / USA
21/03/2011 00:31
Dweikat 6. If u debate me B objective or at least make sense. 1) Yes Sharon left Gaza to redouble in WB. If left to Fatah he wouldn't needed to have made that strategic decision. Credit Goes to Hamas 2) comparing hamas to Hitler makes no sense 3) Fatah tried to destabilize Gaza after Hamas won the ekections. Hamas defeated them & yes brought security. 4) siege was not a "pal" thing b/c Fatah was complacent just like egypt.5) u have no country & u talk about a passport. recog of Israel?

15 ) Ashraf / USA
21/03/2011 00:35
5) Robert Haymond. Not sure I understand what u mean. Yes israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but it was Hamas resistence that forced them out. This was before they were elected. I don't get the point.
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