Cross Post,  Hamas,  Israel/Palestine

Hamas in Gaza: Protesters seek shelter in UN compound

This is a cross-post from Just Journalism.

Just Journalism recently noted that British coverage of Tuesday’s protests in Gaza and the West Bank had omitted accounts of interventions by security forces. In particular, the Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported that Gaza demonstrators in favour of reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah were violently dispersed by the Islamist group:

‘They beat people with batons and set fire to tents that were set up by the demonstrators, according to activists in Gaza City.’

Since then, Ma’an has continued to report on further allegations of violence against protesters. The most recent case involves a protest yesterday outside a compound belonging to UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for refugees in Gaza. Ma’an reports that the gathering was ‘violently broken up by security forces of the Islamist Hamas’:

‘They chased away dozens of demonstrators and seized the memory cards from photographers and cameramen at the scene, [witnesses] said.’

Following the dispersal, 16 protesters sought refuge within the UN compound, prompting UNRWA to release a statement:

‘UNRWA is concerned about the plight of 16 people, all non-staff members, who have taken shelter in the UNRWA compound in Gaza… We have notified the United Nations Humanitarian Co-ordinator who is following the case closely. UNRWA has appealed to the relevant authorities in Gaza to allow these sixteen people safe passage from the UNRWA compound and to guarantee their safety.’

UNRWA has subsequently announced that the 16 individuals have now left the premises.

The violent dispersal of the protest outside the UN building comes shortly after a similar incident at Al-Azhar university. On Wednesday, Ma’an reported that a ‘small unity protest’ within the university grounds had been attacked:

‘Students told Ma’an that a group of men wearing civilian clothing surrounded the university entrances and prevented protesters from leaving the campus. When they insisted on exiting witnesses said the protesters were beaten with batons.’

The Ma’an article includes additional reporting from the AFP wire service:

‘AFP quoted university sources saying at least 10 students were taken to hospital after being beaten and around 20 were arrested.’

Aside from one article in the Financial Times that mentioned ‘scuffles’ at the unity protests on Tuesday, the British media has yet to report on any of the violence in Gaza.

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