Hamas police beat, arrest protesters at Gaza rally

Over 400 demonstrators in Shejaiya urge reconstruction of Strip, call for end to intra-Palestinian division

Illustrative photo of a Hamas police officer carrying a rifle in the Gaza Strip (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a Hamas police officer carrying a rifle in the Gaza Strip (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Police in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip beat and arrested protesters on Wednesday at a youth rally in the north of the Palestinian enclave, an AFP correspondent said.

More than 400 demonstrators gathered in Shejaiya, a neighborhood in eastern Gaza City that was razed during a July-August war between the Hamas terrorist group and Israel, urging reconstruction and calling for an end to intra-Palestinian division.

Plainclothes police officers entered the crowd, beating a number of protesters without causing serious injury, the AFP correspondent said.

They then arrested at least seven people, according to witnesses.

The Hamas-run interior ministry said in a statement that the crowd had grown violent, forcing police to intervene “to protect the lives of those participating, after which calm prevailed.”

The summer conflict, which killed 2,200 Palestinians and 73 on the Israeli side, has left 100,000 people homeless in the tiny coastal territory, according to Palestinian and UN figures.

Israel maintains that about half of Palestinians killed were members of Hamas or other Gaza-based terrorist organizations and blames the high number of casualties on the fact that Gaza fighters situated their military infrastructure in civilian areas.

Reconstruction of homes in the Strip has barely begun, as Israel has left in place its eight-year blockade, which has largely banned the import of building materials, fearing they could be used by terrorists to make weapons. However, Israel allowed more than 15,000 tons of building material into Gaza on Wednesday, the Defense Ministry said.

Hamas and their West Bank-based rivals Fatah have failed to implement a unity deal they signed in April last year.

The deal was meant to hand over control of Gaza to the Western-supported Palestinian Authority, which Fatah dominates.

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