Hamas and the PA Converging on Egypt

Posted on February 4, 2011

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The Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, and Gaza’s ruling Hamas don’t see eye to eye on many things. Except, it appears, crushing new pan-arab inspired demonstrations. Haaretz reports that:

Police arrested six women and threatened to arrest some 20 other would-be demonstrators who arrived at a park in Gaza City in response to a Facebook-planned demonstration, the group said citing witnesses. Police allegedly ordered the women to sign pledges not participate in unsanctioned demonstrations, witnesses told the human rights group.

“The Hamas authorities should stop arbitrarily interfering with peaceful demonstrations about Egypt or anything else,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Rights Watch’s Middle East director. The ruling Islamist group has so far been reluctant to comment on the demonstrations in Egypt demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

Hamas found itself doing this on the same day that Fatah’s PA was stamping out a pro-Egyptian rally in Ramallah:

…an attack against demonstrators at an evening rally on February 2, 2011, in Ramallah in support of the Egypt protests, Human Rights Watch said today. Police punched, kicked, and detained participants in the demonstration, as well as at least two journalists and a Human Rights Watch research assistant.The demonstration had been peaceful when regular police and “special forces” police, identifiable by their uniforms, began beating demonstrators without warning. Police used teargas and batons to disperse the protesters. A police officer told Human Rights Watch that “all the security forces were present tonight,” including police detectives and officers from the Preventive Security agency and General Intelligence Service, all in street clothes.

I’m having some technical problems with my blog, which won’t allow me to embed links, but here’s the address for the HRW report on the Ramallah protest:

Late last month, the PA also crushed a pro-Tunisian uprising demonstration. The PA hasn’t had any credibility for a long while. The Palestine Papers and situations like this, where it is seen propping up corrupt regimes, which, if toppled, could only benefit the Palestinian quest for self-determination and justice, do it few favorwss. But if Hamas is also going to throw its lot in with authoritarianism–as many have feared they would–uncomfortable days of domestic intifada may one day unite the populations of both regions against a common enemy, Palestinian leadership.

Another demonstration is planned for Saturday, February 5th, which you can read about here:

Hamas apparently allowed a demonstration on the next day. Not sure what the purpose of this policy is: only Hamas sanctioned demonstrations? Waiting to see where the cards fall before putting it on the line? Trying to save face after reports of previous suppressions emerged?  In any case, suppression is suppression.

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