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Hizb ut-Tahrir protester killed in West Bank

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

JERUSALEM: A Palestinian man was killed in the West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday as Palestinian Authority police officers loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas fired their weapons to disperse protests against the Middle East peace gathering taking place in Annapolis, Maryland


In Gaza, which is controlled by the Islamic group Hamas, crowds estimated at over 100,000 came out to protest the Annapolis meeting. The circumstances of the man's death were not immediately clear, but medics said he had been shot in the chest, according to news reports. The protesters and the police were also reported to have been throwing stones at each other.

A police spokesman in Hebron sent a statement to reporters denying that the police had killed the man, identified as Hisham al-Baradei, in his 30s.

The Hebron demonstration was one of several in the West Bank organized by Hizb al-Tahrir - the Islamic Liberation Party - a small, unarmed, pan-Islamic group that advocates the return of the Caliphate, and has recently become more active in the Palestinian territories. Today in Africa & Middle East Isralis and Palestinians reach agreement on plan for peace talks U.S. troops kill at least 5 in roadblock shootings Sudan accuses teacher of Islam insult over teddy bear.

The Palestinian Authority had announced a ban on all demonstrations and press conferences during the Annapolis meeting, enforcing a state of emergency it declared after Hamas took over Gaza in a brief factional war in June.

Hizb ut-Tahrir is independent of Hamas and criticized it for having participated in Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006.

In Ramallah, the police used batons, tear gas and fired into the air to hold back about 300 Islamic demonstrators as they tried to march from a city mosque. Dozens of protesters were arrested; some journalists were also beaten and briefly detained. Police had broken up a smaller demonstration by secularist groups earlier in the day.

Inter-Palestinian violence has mostly been confined to Gaza and is much rarer in the Palestinian cities of the West Bank, where Abbas's Fatah-dominated Authority holds sway.

In early November, members of the Hamas police in Gaza shot and killed seven Fatah supporters when they broke up a rally on the anniversary of the death of the long time Palestinian leader and Fatah founder, Yasir Arafat.

Baher Assaf, a spokesman for Hizb al-Tahrir, said in a statement that the Authority police had "used brutal force" against the marchers in the West Bank, including live ammunition, killing one and wounding "hundreds." Assaf called the Annapolis meeting, where Israeli and Palestinian leaders announced their intention to launch serious peace talks, "a conspiracy against the Islamic nation."

The Palestinian Authority minister for prisoner affairs, Ashraf Ajrami, told the Associated Press that there was a "plot to harm the standing" of the Abbas government while the Palestinian president is in the international limelight. Ajrami said the government "must investigate the events surrounding the incident" in which the protester died.

Protests aside, many Palestinians in Ramallah seemed apathetic about the Annapolis meeting. At the downtown Palestine coffee shop, the Al-Jazeera news channel was on mute as customers played cards and listened to Arabic music over the radio. The proprietor, Jamal, 48, said people weren't interested in Annapolis "because there were so many conferences that led to nothing."

A Hamas protester in Gaza, Asma Al-Fayoumi, 17, said "There is a division among Palestinians. There are those after food, life, those that are materialistic, like Abbas, and there are those like us who are seeking life after death," she said.

The large turnout in Gaza pleased her. "There are those who still enjoy good conscience," she said.

Early Tuesday, Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man who had been moving close to them in the southern Gaza Strip, an army spokeswoman said. He turned out to have been unarmed, she said. Hamas said that three of its militants were killed in two other clashes with Israeli forces in Gaza.

Source : http://www.hizb.org.uk

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