Gaza protesters call on Mahmoud Abbas to quit

Amid ongoing Fatah-Hamas feud, thousands of Gazans gather to call on Palestinian Authority president to quit.

    A demonstrator holds a sign reading 'leave' during a Gaza Strip protest against Mahmoud Abbas [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]
    A demonstrator holds a sign reading 'leave' during a Gaza Strip protest against Mahmoud Abbas [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

    Thousands of protesters gathered in the Gaza Strip on Sunday to call for Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to resign after his attempts to pressure Hamas with financial cuts in the impoverished enclave.

    The pro-Hamas crowd gathered at al-Sarya square yelled for the long-serving leader to "leave" and called on the PA to pay the full salaries of public sector employees in Gaza.

    They also demonstrated against Israel's more than a decade-long blockade of the Gaza Strip.

    Israel says the blockade is necessary to prevent Hamas, with whom it has fought three wars since 2008, from obtaining weapons or materials that could be used to make them.

    The demonstration was called for by the Gaza-based Popular Movement for National Salvation, which comprises Palestinian factions including Hamas, the group that governs the Gaza Strip, and other Abbas opponents in the enclave.

    "It's an historic moment where we are standing here against injustice and tyranny," the movement said in a statement.

    "We are here to stress that we are not the slaves of the ruler … We came here to call for general elections, including presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections."

    Since 2006, there have been no parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories and no presidential elections since the year before that.

    Ongoing Hamas-Fatah feud

    Palestine's Wafa news agency, meanwhile, reported that thousands of people demonstrated on Sunday in support of Abbas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

    Speakers at the rally called on Hamas to return to "work for the general good of Palestine at a time [when] schemes are being plotted against the future of the Palestinian people", the report said.

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    Abbas, 83, has over the course of recent months reduced salaries in Gaza as part of a wider attempt to exert pressure on Hamas and push through reconciliation agreements aimed at ending internal Palestinian division.

    His term was meant to expire in 2009, but he has remained in office in the absence of elections.

    All attempts to end the ongoing feud between his Fatah party and Hamas have so far failed.

    The rift began when Hamas violently seized control of Gaza from Fatah in 2007.

    Daily life in Gaza: 'There is no future in this place'

    In the Field

    Daily life in Gaza: 'There is no future in this place'

    SOURCE: News agencies