Hamas terrorists were unable to stop protestors Monday from demonstrating against the iron fist with which the organization currently rules Gaza.
A group of 300 Gaza demonstrators managed to make it to the rally despite beatings by Hamas terrorists wielding clubs and rifle butts at roadblocks set up to stop buses from reaching the site.
The new Hamas edict banning gatherings and public events that do not first receive approval by the terrorist organization also failed to stop the protest, organized by the rival Fatah faction and other opposition groups.
During the brief 20-minute demonstration in which protestors chanted “We want freedom!” Fatah flags were confiscated and a number of demonstrators were arrested by Hamas security personnel.
Media video cameras and other equipment were yanked away to prevent journalists from covering the event, including a stills camera belonging to a reporter for the Associated Press news agency.
Italy and Britain Resume Support for Hamas
Meanwhile, the European trend toward a return to support for Hamas is picking up speed in Italy and Britain.
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi has begun to push for renewed dialogue with Hamas to help the terrorist group “develop politically.”
Prodi told journalists Monday at a conference in central Italy, “Hamas exists. It’s a complex structure that we should help to evolve – but this should be done with transparency….One must push for dialogue so that it happens, and not shut anyone out.”
A spokesman for the Italian Prime Minister later clarified that Prodi was not suggesting that Hamas be included in negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
“The difference is between negotiations and dialogue,” said Prodi spokesman Silvio Sircana.
A report by non-partisan Britain’s House of Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee released Monday also recommended that lawmakers “urgently consider ways of engaging politically with moderate elements within Hamas.”
The committee appealed to former Prime Minister Tony Blair to join the effort to reunite Hamas with Abbas’s Fatah faction. Fatah enjoys solid support from the U.S., Israel and Japan – on the condition it maintains its distance from Hamas.
Blair presently serves as the Middle East envoy for the Quartet, which includes the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union.