UN Mideast envoy condemns Hamas crackdown on street protests

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The U.N. Mideast envoy has condemned Gaza’s Hamas rulers for violently cracking down on popular protests over the past few days.

Nickolay Mladenov said Sunday that he was especially alarmed by the “brutal beating” of journalists and human rights workers.

Tahseen Astal, a member of the Gaza Journalists’ Syndicate, said Hamas forces had assaulted dozens of local Palestinian journalists and four were hospitalized for their injuries. He said that police raided journalists’ homes following their posts on social media and that seven remained in custody.

Driven by Hamas tax hikes and the desperation of living under Israeli-Egyptian blockade, hundreds of Palestinians have rallied under the slogan “We want to live” to protest the rising cost of living in the enclave. Videos have circulated online showing Hamas officials forcibly dispersing demonstrations.

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