19 March 2019 Gaza rights groups condemn Hamas ’violent reactions over protests

On 18 and 19 March, human rights groups and leaders of the demonstrations condemned Hamas’ harsh response to protesters that the previous days filled the streets of Gaza City. The demonstrations that started on 14 March, aimed at achieving better conditions and denouncing the increasing cost of living and tax hike. They were organized by a movement created on the web under the slogan “we want to live”. Moumen al-Natour, one the organisers of the movement, explained via Facebook that “It’s a peaceful, popular youth movement – and that it is not – political and we don’t want to change political systems. We just want to get our rights”. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and some local media reported that Hamas authorities reacted violently against people in the streets, taking them in custody and setting up several checkpoints on the streets to inspect car passengers. Also Nickolay Mladenov, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process defended the rights of Palestinians to protests stating that: “The long-suffering people of Gaza were protesting the dire economic situation and demanded an improvement in the quality of life in the Gaza Strip. It is their right to protest without fear of reprisal”.