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The reality about ‘we want to live’ riots in Gaza

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On 14 March, scores of Palestinians in the starving Gaza Strip took to the streets in several cities carrying the slogan “We Want to Live”, calling for “equality, dignity, food and job opportunities.” That day passed quietly, but the interior ministry in Gaza warned the protesters not to take to the streets again because Hamas, the Palestinian movement which has been ruling Gaza since 2007, “has been doing its best to afford these just demands.” However, they took to the streets the next day in larger numbers, but they were violent as they burnt tyres and insulted and threw stones at policemen, prompting violent responses.

Sequence of events

With prior intelligence information about these protests and the real reason behind them, the Ministry of Interior said the policemen were ready to deal with them. “At the beginning, our security personnel stayed near the protesters in order to prevent any wrongdoing,” Iyad Al-Bozom, ministry spokesman told me. “The first day passed quietly, but the second was full of pre-planned incidents.” This caused a number of casualties among the protesters, who documented the violent crackdown and posted it on social media. But the material shared includes footage which dates back to 2007, Al-Bozom added, in order to incite against Hamas.

Haaretz reported that one of the videos which went viral on social media was not related to what was going on in Gaza. It said: “It was reported that a Palestinian man set himself on fire after Hamas shuttered his shop as punishment for participating in the protests. The report was based on video that went viral.” Another video, which also went viral on the internet, shows a woman in her 50s claiming that children of Hamas officials drive luxurious cars, while her four sons, as well as all Gaza people, are unemployed because of Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Al-Sinwar. It is true that the unemployment rate in Gaza has crossed a historical record, hitting 70 per cent, but this affected everyone, including Hamas members. The woman’s claim, which was recorded in a video taken of her with the violent protests in the background, meant to incite more people to join the protests.

READ: Gaza prepares for massive demonstration on 30 March

This caused the police to be on alert the third day, when Fatah leaders lost their patience and claimed responsibility for running these protests. Palestine TV, which is run by the senior Fatah leader Ahmad Assaf, opened its feed to waves of insults against Hamas, calling for the people in Gaza to oust it in order to get their freedom. Fatah leader Hussein Al-Sheikh described these protests as........

© Middle East Monitor