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Middle East

Protesters chase Palestinian minister out of Gaza City

  • A Palestinian man cycles past a transition center for newly released convicts, which was not yet operational and empty, destroyed by an overnight Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, July 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

GAZA CITY: Palestinian Health Minister Jawad Awad canceled a trip to Gaza City’s Shifa hospital Tuesday after being confronted by angry protesters as he arrived from Egypt, officials said.

Witnesses said protesters threw shoes and eggs at Awad’s car as he entered Gaza through the Rafah border crossing.

Officials said he left the Palestinian territory shortly afterward.

Protesters also gathered at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, carrying posters criticizing Awad and the recently formed government of technocrats to which he belongs.

The government was sworn in on June 2 following a unity deal between the Hamas movement and President Mahmoud Abbas which ended seven years of rival administrations in the West Bank and Gaza.

“ Gaza has been bombed, and Gaza has been destroyed, and now he comes to visit?” protester Ahmad Murtaja said incredulously.

“We don’t want this visit and all the Palestinian people are opposed to it and reject it,” he told AFP.

Protesters said they were angry that it had taken Awad eight days to visit Gaza.

They also condemned the Palestinian president for failing to do more to halt the Israeli campaign, with some chanting: “Abu Mazen [Abbas] is a collaborator.”

In a statement, the Health Ministry condemned the “flagrant and brutal assault” on the health minister and his delegation in Rafah, blaming the incident on “media affiliated with Hamas.”

Although the reconciliation agreement has held, a lot of bad blood remains between Hamas and the West Bank leadership.

“The Health Ministry will continue to stand by our people in Gaza,” the statement said, pledging to secure medical supplies for the wounded.

There was no immediate comment from Hamas, but a top member of its exiled politburo, Mussa Abu Marzuq, condemned the incident as “irresponsible and improper” on his Facebook page. He called for an investigation and prosecution of those responsible.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 16, 2014, on page 9.
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Summary

Palestinian Health Minister Jawad Awad canceled a trip to Gaza City's Shifa hospital Tuesday after being confronted by angry protesters as he arrived from Egypt, officials said.

The government was sworn in on June 2 following a unity deal between the Hamas movement and President Mahmoud Abbas which ended seven years of rival administrations in the West Bank and Gaza.

"We don't want this visit and all the Palestinian people are opposed to it and reject it," he told AFP.

Protesters said they were angry that it had taken Awad eight days to visit Gaza.


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