Wed, March 16, 2011 | Israel National News | by Gavriel Queenann
Hamas’ Violent Crackdown on Youth Protest
Hamas police, dressed in civilian clothes, broke into Al-Katiba yard in Gaza city and attacked protesters who had gathered there, the Associated Press reports. According to witnesses:
“Members of Hamas, dressed in civilian clothing and driving civilian vehicles, broke into Al-Katiba Square where they attacked protesters, severely beat them, and burnt all the tents set in the yard, causing about 40 injuries, including cases of suffocation.”
Witnesses also said Hamas police cut electricity and communications for the square and surrounding area before the raid, and that a number of senior Hamas members, including members of the Legislative Council led by Yahya Moussa, were involved in encircling the protesters along with the security forces.
During the crack-down Hamas used batons, rubber bullets, and tear gas, according to the official Palestine News & Information Agency.
The demonstration, staged a day after tens of thousands in Gaza and Judea and Samaria took to the streets to demand an end to the schism between Hamas and their Fatah archrivals, who dominate the Palestinian Authority, was organized by “Enough”, a student group at Gaza’s Al-Zahar University.
In addition to the crack-down at Al-Katiba Square, Hamas police attacked students at Al-Zahar University who were departing to attend the Al-Katiba rally. At least ten students were taken to the hospital after being assaulted by security forces, with another 20 being taken into custody, after Hamas police forced their way into the University’s administrative offices.
A spokesman for the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza denied police had entered the university. “What happened at the university was a problem between students,” Ihab al-Ghussein told the press.
However, witnesses at the scene, including an AFP photographer, reported police were still blocking the gates, preventing anyone from leaving or entering university premises.
Hamas’ strong response to dissent is not a surprise. Attempts by Arabs in areas administered by Fatah and Hamas have faced strong opposition to organizing protests in the wake of the political upheaval shaking the region.