Shiekh Yassin under house arrest; Hamas supporters, PA police clash
Clashes erupted between Palestinian police and Hamas supporters on Monday after the Palestinian Authority placed Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the group's founder, under house arrest in Gaza City.
Witnesses said Palestinian police opened fire as the Hamas supporters marched towards Yassin's house. Police said the Hamas protesters had opened fire.
One man was treated in hospital for a stomach wound which he said was inflicted by Palestinian police gunfire, Reuters reported.
"There was gunfire from the Hamas supporters. We are investigating the circumstances of the reported injury," a police official said.
Earlier, Palestinian security officers announced they had put the spiritual leader of Hamas under house arrest in Gaza City, AFPreported.
"It was decided, starting from tonight, to impose house arrest on Sheikh Ahmed Yassin to safeguard the ultimate national interests of the Palestinian people," a Palestinian official told Reuters.
"The decision was issued from high up, from President Yasser Arafat," he said.
Hamas officials confirmed Sheikh Yassin's home in the western part of Gaza City was surrounded, but said they had not been told he was under house arrest.
Abdel-Hamid Yassin, son of the cleric, said the family had not been notified in advance of the decision and that Palestinian Authority security service units had taken up two positions within 200 meters of their home.
Before the clashes, senior Hamas leader, Ismail Haniya said Yassin's supporters would likely not react violently to the house arrest. The last time Yassin was placed under house arrest, in December, a Hamas supporter was killed in the ensuing clashes with Palestinian police in Gaza City.
"We have recently made clear that our struggle is against the Zionist enemy," Haniya, Yassin's office director, told Reuters.
"But we call on the Palestinian Authority to immediately reverse the decision for the sake of the higher national interests of the Palestinian nation," he added.
In an interview with Reuters in Gaza City last month, Yassin strongly defended suicide bombings against Israel and rejected Palestinian elections planned by Arafat as part of his efforts to reform the Palestinian Authority.
"The Palestinian people are forced to defend themselves, " he said. "The Palestinian people do not have Apache helicopters or F-16s (fighter-bombers) or tanks or missiles. The only thing they can have is themselves to die as martyrs."
Tensions mounted on Sunday when Hamas harshly criticized the Palestinian Authority for rounding up more than ten of its activists in the Gaza Strip.
"This ugly step (arrest of the activists) comes within a framework of satisfying the Zionist enemy's dictates and implementing America's will," said a Hamas statement issued in Beirut. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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