A protest by Fatah supporters against Hamas rule turned violent Friday when Hamas men began forcefully dispersing the crowd, firing in the air and beating demonstrators and reporters.
Three people were wounded in the clashes, according to Dr. Muawiya Hassanin of the Palestinian Health Ministry. It was not immediately clear if they were protesters or policemen, and Hassanin did not specify the nature of their injuries.
AP staff covering the protest witnessed the beating of one journalist by Hamas men. He was not seriously hurt. The violence began at the end of a Fatah prayer meeting held to protest against Hamas, which seized control of the coastal territory in June.
A similar protest last Friday also ended in clashes and harassment of journalists. 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 footage shows several uniformed Hamas men beating an unarmed protester with long sticks.
Hamas supporters in civilian clothes also joined the uniformed forces in dispersing the protest.