Hamas, P.A. Crack Down on Unity Protests
Sketchy reports of violence emerge from Gaza, West Bank, and even Syria
It’s not clear exactly what is going on and where. But it seems protests in both the West Bank and Gaza in favor of Palestinian unity—currently, of course, there is a sharp divide between Fatah, which rules the West Bank (through the Palestinian Authority), and Hamas, which rules Gaza—turned ugly when Hamas supporters set on Gaza protesters and P.A. police struck at West Bank ones. Haaretz reported of Hamas supporters violently attacking protesters. On his Twitter Feed, George Hale, the English editor of Maan News Agency, reported injuries in Ramallah following clashes between protesters and P.A. police.
Indeed, most of the documentation has occurred on Twitter, where, under the #March15 hashtag—an echo of the #Jan25 marker used by the original Egyptian anti-Mubarak protesters—there has been a steady stream throughout the day of exhortations toward unity combined with reports of a violent crackdown. “Clashes between Hamas police & the protesters in Al-Kateeba,” writes, well, someone. “They are throwing stones. Over 60,000 there now.” Needless to say, Twitter is not the same as a trusted news source, and so this stuff should be taken with several grains of salt.
There are also reports (and plenty of tweets) about small but real unrest in Syria, which up until now had been perhaps the most placid Arab state over the past few months.
I hesitate to draw conclusions before trusted reporters have filed their dispatches. One hopes there is minimal violence. And one hopes that any authority—be it Hamas or the P.A. or Syria—that does violently suppress its people’s peaceful protests be viewed, everywhere and especially in the Arab world, the same way the Bahraini government and similarly thuggish enterprises are perceived. For now, remember the day: March 15.