Gaza: General strike to protest Hamas practices
Defying Hamas, scores of schools and shops closed their doors in Gaza on Sunday, observing a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)-called strike to protest violence by the ruling Islamist movement. In the Rimal neighbourhood of Gaza City, most store fronts were shuttered and only a handful of shops open, AFP reported.
Main streets in Gaza city such as the Omar al-Mokhtar saw a complete commercial strike.
The universities of Al-Azhar, Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa were closed, as were the majority of state schools in the Strip. Schools operated by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) remained open. A senior education official in Gaza told news agencies that the strike included 77 percent of the governmental schools, despite the fact that a large number of students headed Sunday morning for their schools.
The Hamas-dominated Islamic university did not abide by the PLO’s call.
The PLO called on Friday for a one-day general strike to protest the use of force by Hamas paramilitaries in dispersing rallies which the Islamist movement had not authorized.
At Shifa Hospital, the Strip's largest, only the emergency services were working, a doctor told AFP. The hospital has witnessed several work slowdowns in recent months, as staff protested Hamas firing senior hospital administrators who are members of Fatah.
Hamas brushed off Sunday's action. "The disturbances are partial," spokesman Fawzi Barhum said. "I don't think that participation in the strike is large. Many schools are open. Businesses are functioning, as is the health sector.
"This strike violates the law and public liberties... It is preventing the normal functioning of daily life in the Gaza Strip," he said, adding that Hamas "has the means to know who is cooperating with the Ramallah gang and answering its calls."