With Attack on Gaza Protestors, Hamas Loses Palestinian Hearts and Minds

With Attack on Gaza Protestors, Hamas Loses Palestinian Hearts and Minds

Palestinian men, women and children, poured into the streets of Gaza City on Monday, determined to make a statement on the third anniversary of the Yasser Arafat's death. Precisely what statement they wished to make remains a matter of some debate. Was it love for the late Arafat, founder of Hamas rival Fatah, or a yearning for a return to the pre-Hamas days? Whatever the marchers meant to say, Hamas leaders read the crowd, estimated at about 200,000, as a threat to their iron-fisted grip on Gaza. Hamas gunmen opened fire with live bullets on the sea of demonstrators, killing seven, including a 14-year-old boy. Then they set out to round up Fatah leaders who organized the ill-fated march.

Palestinians, it appears, are falling out of love with the Islamic Resistance Movement, known by its Arabic acronym Hamas, the same organization that won the Palestinian elections less than two years ago.

Palestinians were beside themselves with rage at Hamas. A statement from the Palestinian Authority president, Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas, described the killings as a "heinous crime" and accused Iran-backed Hamas of using "the most bloody and brutal techniques against our people in Gaza." By Thursday, Abbas made an unprecedented call for the people of Gaza to overthrow Hamas. At a speech in Ramallah, he declared, "We have to bring down this crowd that took Gaza by armed force and is abusing . . . our people."

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