(JTA) — The United Nations has condemned Hamas for using force to squelch protests by Gaza Palestinians over new taxes, unemployment and electricity shortages in the coastal strip.
Hamas, which took control of Gaza in 2007, has arrested dozens of protesters and journalists.
Youth movements and groups that reject the militant group’s rule over Gaza have organized the demonstrations and are marching in the streets under the banner “We Want to Live!”
Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. 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. “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.”
Other Palestinian factions over the weekend called on Hamas to allow peaceful public demonstrations and to release the jailed protesters. The factions also called on Hamas to halt the high taxes on goods entering Gaza, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Mladenov called for reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas, as well as the other Palestinian factions.