Nickolay Mladenov
Nickolay MladenovReuters

The United Nations has condemned Hamas for using force to suppress protests by Gazans over new taxes, unemployment and electricity shortages in the coastal enclave, JTA reported on Monday.

Hamas has also arrested dozens of protesters and journalists in recent days, since the protests began.

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, criticized the Hamas tactics.

“I strongly condemn the campaign of arrests and violence used by Hamas security forces against protesters, including women and children, in Gaza over the past three days,” he wrote, according to JTA.

“I am particularly alarmed by the brutal beating of journalists and staff from the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) and the raiding of homes. 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,” added Mladenov.

Other Palestinian Arab factions over the weekend called on Hamas to allow peaceful public demonstrations and to release the jailed protesters.

Mladenov called for reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas, as well as the other factions.

Hamas has been ruling Gaza since 2007, when it overtook the coastal enclave from Fatah, which is headed by PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, in a bloody coup.

Since then, the two groups have been embroiled in a bitter rivalry. The two organizations signed a reconciliation deal in October of 2017, under which the PA was to have resumed full control of Gaza by December of that year.

That deadline, however, was initially put back by 10 days, had later reportedly hit “obstacles”, and has never been implemented.