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Archive for Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Palestinians protest against Islamic militants

May 21, 2003

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— Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated Tuesday after a five-day Israeli invasion damaged farms and buildings, but in a rare twist, their wrath was directed at Palestinian militants for inviting the attack by firing rockets from their property.

Two hours after Israeli troops left, about 600 angry residents of the town of 35,000 took to the streets in a spontaneous protest, complaining that the militants had caused Israel to destroy 15 houses and uproot thousands of olive, citrus and date palm trees. It was a rare outburst; most Palestinian demonstrations are aimed at Israel.

The protesters blocked a main road with trash cans, rocks and burning tires in a show of outrage against the militants. Most of the rockets are launched at towns inside Israel by members of the militant Islamic movement, Hamas.

"They (the militants) claim they are heroes," said Mohammed Zaaneen, 30, a farmer, as he carried rocks into the street. "They brought us only destruction and made us homeless. They used our farms, our houses and our children ... to hide."

Interviewed in Gaza by Israel TV's Channel 10, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas repeated his denunciation of the recent suicide attacks claimed by Muslim militants. "They sabotage the process the same as Israeli occupation sabotages the process," he said. "The whole situation is tragic."

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