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Palestinian Authority and Hamas Security Forces Harrass and Shut Down Peaceful Palestinian Protests

March 16, 2011

Would it kill the mainstream media to cover some of this?

The protests were yesterday:

Palestinians demonstrating in the West Bank city of Ramallah late Tuesday vowed to maintain their presence in a central square until the West Bank and Gaza Strip are re-united.

The call, through loudspeakers, came shortly after tear gas canisters briefly dispersed the crowd in the Manara circle. It was not clear who tossed the canisters out of a car that sped past the demonstration.

Throughout the day, around 7,000 people demonstrated in the West Bank, with around 3,000 in Ramallah, 2,000 in the northern city of Nablus and similar numbers in Hebron, and Bethlehem, reporters said.

Protesters and security forces clashed as the Palestinian Authority sought to gain control of demonstrations calling for an end to rivalry.

Despite isolated cases of violence, some severe, forces also handed out food, and a security captain said the president wanted to send a message that he supports unity.

Demonstrators sang patriotic songs and waved Palestinian flags, but the protest was also plagued with confrontations between supporters of different political groups, marring organizers’ attempts to keep the movement apolitical.

At least 20 people have been injured by security forces in the main square, and six were taken away in ambulances, our correspondent reported from the scene.

Khalida Jarrar, a Palestinian lawmaker and member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said that “security forces shouldn’t be among protesters.”

“The youth have a very strong slogan. They want elections for the Palestinian National Council. This is really important, I support this. It’s the only thing that can unite Palestinians inside and outside.”

The biggest gathering was in Gaza City, where officials from the Hamas-run interior ministry said vast crowds had packed into the city’s Square of the Unknown Soldier.

Protesters in Gaza said security forces set up hundreds of barriers around the main square of demonstrations and were patrolling the area. They beat people with batons and set fire to tents that were set up by the demonstrators, according to activists in Gaza City.

The March 15 Coalition said hundreds of Hamas security forces stormed the protests and tried to evacuate it by force.

BTW, for anyone interested in Middle East issues from different perspectives, the Palestinians have a news agency, Ma’an, which can be found here.

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