A protest of Hamas rule by Fatah supporters turned violent Friday when Hamas men began forcefully dispersing the crowd, firing in the air and beating demonstrators and reporters.
Five people were wounded in the clashes, including two French journalists, according to doctors and witnesses.
Associated Press reporters saw the beating of one journalist by Hamas supporters. He was not seriously hurt.
The violence began at the end of a Fatah prayer meeting held to protest Hamas, which seized control of the coastal territory in June. A similar protest a week ago also ended in clashes and harassment of journalists.
Beatings caught on video
After the Fatah supporters finished prayers, Hamas men began firing into the air to disperse the crowd. The Hamas security forces then began arresting protesters and taking them away in jeeps, and also beat several demonstrators. AP Television News video showed several uniformed Hamas men beating an unarmed protester with long sticks.
Hamas men in civilian clothes also joined the uniformed forces in dispersing the protest.
A small explosion from an unknown source slightly injured two French journalists.
At one point, a Hamas security building was pelted with small explosives, according to an AP photographer. Hamas security agents responded by firing in the air.
After the clashes, heavily armed Hamas security agents entered AP’s offices in Gaza City and instructed staff not to film or photograph a nearby security building from the balcony without prior permission.
Saber Khalifa, a Hamas security spokesman, said his force was rounding up “subverters.” He didn’t have a number of those arrested.
A Fatah official in Gaza said 25 men were rounded up.