REPORTING FROM GAZA CITY -- Hamas police on Sunday prevented dozens of activists from demonstrating in solidarity with Syrian people in the Gaza Strip, witnesses said.
The policemen peacefully stopped the protest shortly after it started in front of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza City. The demonstrators, numbering about 30, waved Palestinian and Syrian flags, with banners supporting the Syrian antigovernment protesters.
Since 1999, the political bureau of Hamas has been based in the Syrian capital, Damascus. The Islamic movement came under pressure from Syria and Iran, its main regional backers, to support Syrian President Bashar Assad in his efforts to suppress the opposition there. Hamas' reluctance to do so has frayed its relations with both nations. Most Hamas leaders have relocated from Damascus.
Hamas, which took over Gaza by force in 2007, generally bans any public activities except those organized by its supporters.
-- Rushdi Abualouf