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Friday, March 11, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Hamas fears Gaza youth will take to the streets

GAZA CITY — The Hamas regime has become concerned over a backlash by the huge youth population in the Gaza Strip.


Palestinian sources said the Islamic regime has discussed the prospect that thousands of young people would take to the streets of the Gaza Strip in protest of Hamas. They said the youngsters were seething over police brutality and the lack of basic freedom.

"There is much talk that Hamas is nothing more than another Arab dictatorship that must be overthrown," a Palestinian source said.

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In February, Palestinians held protests in several areas of the Gaza Strip as part of a demand for democratic reforms, Middle East Newsline reported. Scores of Palestinians were later interrogated, including members of the opposition Fatah movement.

The sources said Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has urged security forces to ease its crackdown on dissent. But they said Haniyeh, who on March 10 reshuffled his Cabinet and appointed the first woman minister, has been opposed by Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari and Interior Minister Fathi Hamad.

On March 8, the Interior Ministry ordered police to apologize for the beating of a democracy activist. The ministry acknowledged that Samer Abu Rahma, a representative of the June 5 Youth, was beaten and abused during his detention.

"The police admitted that they verbally abused and threatened me and my colleagues that they would break our bones," Abu Rahma said. "Then, they told us they are our masters."

Some of the protests called for a reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, the ruling movement in the West Bank. The demonstrations, facilitated by Facebook and Twitter, have been organized by a group called "The Popular Movement to End Division."

"We insist that our demand is only the end of the division," the group said.

The sources said Hamas security forces, believed led by Jabari, have refused to apologize to Abu Rahma. The Interior Ministry ordered an investigation of the treatment of Abu Rahma and five of his colleagues.

"The police do not apologize to anybody," a police source said.

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