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UN envoy says Hamas ‘brutally beating’ Gaza protesters

Gazans risk being jailed or beaten from Hamas by protesting the dire economic state.

Freedom of the press and the right to protest — even peacefully — are nonexistent within Gaza. So it was a rare show of dissent when Gazans began demonstrations on Thursday at several locations throughout the Strip to protest treacherous living conditions in the coastal enclave.

But in keeping with tradition, Hamas is suppressing the protests beating those involved and arresting journalists who have the audacity to cover news of the demonstrations.

“I strongly condemn the campaign of arrests and violence used by Hamas security forces against protesters, including women and children, in Gaza over the past three days,” UN envoy to Israel and the Palestinian territories Nickolay Mladenov said. “I am particularly alarmed by the brutal beating of journalists and staff from the Independent Commission for Human Rights and the raiding of homes.”

The protests are seen as a challenge to Hamas’s rule in Gaza. The dire financial situation comes after years of corruption and war with Israel since Hamas gained power in 2007.

“The long-suffering people of Gaza were protesting the dire economic situation and demanded an improvement in the quality of life in the Gaza Strip,” Mladenov said. “It is their right to protest without fear of reprisal.”

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate said Sunday that Hamas arrested a total of 17 reporters since the protests began on Thursday some of whom were beaten and had their cellphones and other equipment confiscated.

Organizers said the protests are against high unemployment, widespread poverty and poor infrastructure faced by Gaza’s 2 million residents.

Meanwhile, weekly violent protests against Israel on the border were called off last Friday for the first time since they began almost a year ago. It is okay for Palestinians to protest against Israel, even violently, but not against their own government.

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