Gaza spiralling into havoc following anti-Hamas protests 

March 17, 2019 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Thousands of Gazans have taken to streets in recent days to protest Hamas’ oppressive rule, the dire economic conditions and the rise in taxes.

Gaza March, 2019 Photo by Kobi Richter/TPS

Protests across the Strip decried the tax hikes and the high cost of living, and Hamas forces responded with violence and shooting at the protesters, causing some 250 injuries.

Dozens of arrests were also reported.

Hamas has placed the Gazan city of Deir al-Balah under curfew in an attempt to suppress the protests there.

Meanwhile, the movement leading the protests called for a general strike throughout the Gaza Strip to protest Hamas’ crackdown on the demonstrations and are seeking an escalation in the clashes.

Ofir Gendelman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesperson for the Arab media, stated “that’s life in Gaza under Hamas’ terrorist rule: Gazans are taking to the streets in order to protest about their miserable lives under Hamas’ rule. And what does Hamas do? Its terrorists are shooting them in the streets!”

Member of Knesset Moti Yogev stated that he “strengthens the hands of the residents of the Gaza Strip who are protesting against the murderous and cruel Hamas terrorist organization.”

He expressed hope that Israel will “one day assist them in destroying the Hamas leaders and the other terrorist organizations, and in establishing a civil leadership in the Gaza Strip and turning it into a growing and flourishing region.”

Human rights organizations have also condemned Hamas’ violent crackdown on the protests.

The national forces in Gaza, a coalition of major Arab factions in the Strip, called on Hamas to apologize to the public for the attack on the demonstrators demanding a dignified life in Gaza, stressing the need to hold accountable those involved in the attack.

A statement signed by all national factions, except for Islamic Jihad and Hamas, called on Hamas and its leadership to withdraw the gunmen from the streets and public squares and release all the detainees arrested in the protests.

A security source told TPS that the protest movement is being led by unofficial elements in Gaza, while Fatah, led by Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas, is fanning the flames.

The source estimated that the Strip has a long way to go until it will see a change.

He further estimated that the incident that sparked the clashes were the cash-packed suitcases of Qatari dollars, which were supposed to be given to Gaza’s needy, but were instead embezzled by Hamas.

Hamas blamed the sanctions imposed by the PA on Gaza as the cause for the strife in Gaza, which were “aimed at weakening the Palestinian home front.”

In a press release, Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qasem said that the PA’s “punitive measures on Gaza had tightened the 12-year siege imposed by the Israeli occupation on the impoverished territory.”

Qasem condemned the PA’s sanctions on Gaza as “a national, moral, and humanitarian crime aimed at targeting the Palestinian home front.”

 

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