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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hamas attacks "unity" rally in Gaza

From Ma'an:
Thousands of pro-unity protesters in Gaza City's Unknown Soldier Square moved to the city's Khatib Square on Monday, when a Hamas-organized rally arrived at the scene, dampening the calls for a non-factional call for Palestinian unity.

A much smaller protest in Ramallah, with estimates of about 3,000, gathered in the Manara Circle, called in tandem with Gaza for an end to Palestinian political division, which fissured that Palestinian leadership in 2007.

Organizers of the 15 March protests, which include a loose coalition of youth groups in the West Bank and Gaza, have called for the protests to remain focused on unity. The aim of the demonstration, they say, is the end of Palestinian political division through elections that include all Palestinians.

Speaking by phone from the protest one man, who asked not to be identified, said about 200 Hamas members carrying flags and chanting Hamas slogans entered the square shortly before 11:30 a.m.

He said two demonstrators were hit with Taser guns and fainted as they shouted demanding the removal of all politically-affiliated paraphernalia from the area.

In Ramallah, 3,000 gathered the Manara Circle, with early reports of Palestinian Authority security presence and some Fatah flags being raised.
Palestine Press Agency adds:
30 people were admitted to hospitals on Tuesday in Gaza City as a result of Hamas elements assaulting the demonstration to 'end the division'.

Mohammed Ghareeb, a participant in the demonstration, said "A group of young people that were chanting 'People want to end the division' was attacked by a large group of Hamas members who were chanting 'Hamas is the Solution' and [the Hamas members] beat them with batons and sharp tools and opened fire during the withdrawal from the site after the rush the masses of young people on them."