dinsdag 13 november 2007

Doden en gewonden bij uiteenslaan Arafat herdenking door Hamas

Hoewel Arafat de eenheid onder de Palestijnen nog enigzins wist te bewaren, is een grote rally om hem te herdenken op een bloedbad uit gelopen. Sinds Hamas' overname van de Gazastrook zijn pro-Fatah demonstraties verboden, en in september zijn verschillende kleinere demonstraties eveneens met geweld beëindigd, al vielen daarbij geen doden. Ook journalisten die met Fatah zouden sympathiseren werden toen weggejaagd en bedreigd.
Het dodental was volgens verschillende berichten 6, 7 of 8 personen.

Agence France Presse / Nov. 12, 2007

Hamas kills six at huge Arafat rally in Gaza

GAZA CITY (AFP) — Hamas police killed six people in Gaza City on Monday as hundreds of thousands gathered to commemorate Yasser Arafat's death in the biggest Fatah party rally since it was ousted by the Islamists.

Another 130 people were wounded when the Hamas-run police force opened fire as crowds threw rocks and chanted "Shiite, Shiite" -- accusing them of being a proxy for Shiite Iran and its ally Syria, witnesses and medics said.

Palestinian television showed groups of protesters and armed men running through the streets and police beating a Fatah supporter with wooden batons.

The deaths added salt to the wounds of already bitter divisions among Palestinians, with Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad blaming top Hamas leaders for the killings.

"Senior officials in Hamas ordered these crimes which were carried out by the Hamas militia in order to terrify the people... Now their punishment is a national duty," Fayyad said in a statement from his office.

Earlier, the head of the secular Fatah party's parliamentary bloc ruled out future talks with the Islamists, who had called for a return to a national unity government that briefly united the factions before the takeover.

"There will be no dialogue and no discussions with the killers and coup-makers of Hamas," Azzam Ahmed said in a statement.

Hamas blamed Fatah gunmen for instigating the clashes, accusing them of firing down on police from the rooftops around the square.

They "opened fire on Palestinian police, wounding four of them, then a group within the rally started throwing rocks at police, and the clashes ensued," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said at a press conference.

His account was disputed by an AFP correspondent and several witnesses, who said Hamas police opened fire on the demonstration.

The rally saw the city centre filled with a sea of the yellow flags of the party founded by Arafat and currently led by president Mahmud Abbas, whose forces were driven from the Gaza Strip in a bloody takeover in mid-June.

People had streamed into the city from across the impoverished coastal strip, eager to pay their respects to the father of the Palestinian cause.

"I walked from my house in (the northern village of) Beit Hanun," said Um Hatem, 65, who attended in a traditional Palestinian dress. "After him our situation has become very hard... We have become orphans without a father."

The crowds waved Palestinian flags and held portraits of the iconic leader in his trademark black-and-white keffiyeh headdress as Fatah party officials called for unity over loudspeakers.

The event drew as many as half a million people, according to senior Fatah official Ahmed Hellis.

Hamas which has controlled the Gaza Strip since the takeover five months ago broke up several smaller Fatah demonstrations on Sunday, the third anniversary of Arafat's death, shooting and wounding three people.

The Executive Force, Hamas's self-style police, arrested several people on Sunday and on the day of the rally confiscated tens of thousands of portraits of Arafat and Abbas.

Palestinians across the occupied territories, more divided now than at any other point in their history, have been paying tribute to the iconic leader who died on November 11, 2004 and who remains a symbol of Palestinian unity.

But the Palestinian Authority which he set up in 1994 now controls only scattered, autonomous areas of the occupied West Bank with Hamas ruling the Gaza Strip after routing their Fatah party rivals.

"Arafat's absence is what allowed Hamas to control the Gaza Strip," said Mukhaimar Abu Saada, a professor at Gaza's Al-Azhar University, adding that the rally was "a rejection of the actions of the Executive Force".

Hamas -- which opposed Arafat's policies during his lifetime and vilifies his successor Abbas -- nevertheless praised the late leader.

"We often agreed with the president Abu Ammar (Arafat) and we often disagreed with him, but in spite of this we consider him a symbol of the Palestinian nation," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum told AFP on Sunday.

But the bitter internal divisions that Arafat always managed to hold at bay have erupted across the Palestinian territories since his death from unknown causes in a Paris hospital.

*** Balanced Middle East News ***
MidEastweb http://www.mideastweb.org
Subscribe - mail to mewnews-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

MewBkd - Background & analysis -
mail to

Geen opmerkingen:

Een reactie posten