Palestinian police break up rare anti-PA protest, arrest 10
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Palestinian police break up rare anti-PA protest, arrest 10

After temporarily banning demonstrations, West Bank officers disperse crowd rallying against Gaza policies

Palestinian police have broken up a rare public protest in the West Bank against the Palestinian Authority’s policies in Gaza.

Dozens of Palestinian protesters gathered in Ramallah on Wednesday calling on PA President Mahmoud Abbas to end his “punishment” of Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Palestinian police dispersed the crowd with electric shockers and batons. Undercover officers dragged others away, arresting about 10 people.

Abbas has cracked down on dissent, and such protests are rare.

Hamas drove forces loyal to Abbas out of Gaza in 2007 in a bloody coup. In recent months, Abbas has tried to pressure the terror group to hand back power in Gaza through cutting payments for electricity and other economic measures.

The Palestinian Authority temporarily banned public protests earlier Wednesday, ahead of the planned demonstration that evening.

The order came after on Sunday several thousand protesters took to the streets of Ramallah, the West Bank city that houses the Palestinian government, calling for Abbas to end measures against Gaza that critics say harm the two million residents.

Organizers estimated 2,000 people attended, a rare show of opposition to the government in the city.

A statement on the official news agency Wafa said Wednesday that no permits for protests would be given out during the coming days — citing the Muslim Eid al-Fitr festival, which is expected to begin Friday.

“In order to facilitate citizens’ normal life in this period, it is prohibited to grant permits to organize marches or to establish gatherings that would disrupt the movement of citizens and disturb them,” it said.

Despite the ban, organizers vowed to go ahead with fresh anti-government protests on Wednesday night.

“The (Israeli) occupation is the main culprit responsible for the blockade on Gaza, but President Abbas is making things worse by also imposing collective punishment on families there,” campaign activist Fadi Quran said, vowing to take to the streets.

The PA has introduced a series of measures against Gaza in the past year, including dramatically reducing payments to Israel for the electricity it supplies Gaza in a bid to pressure Hamas to loosen its grip on the territory.

Abbas’s Fatah movement has also not paid full salaries to tens of thousands of its civil servants in the Strip for months.

Israel has maintained a blockade on Gaza for over a decade, which it says is necessary to prevent Hamas, which is regarded as a terror group by Israel and much of the West and is sworn to Israel’s destruction, from smuggling in weapons and material used for digging tunnels into Israel. Egypt also maintains the blockade.

The United Nations has said the Strip will be unlivable by 2020.

Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement last October, but it has since collapsed.

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