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Red Cross in Gaza Closes Office Due to Violent Protests

  • Associated Press

Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qeq, who has been on hunger strike for more than 70 days to protest at his administrative detention in an Israeli jail, is seen at Haemek hospital in the northern Israeli city of Afula, Feb. 5, 2016. Dozens of Gazans have protested daily at the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross in recent weeks to demand that the Red Cross help bring about his release.

Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qeq, who has been on hunger strike for more than 70 days to protest at his administrative detention in an Israeli jail, is seen at Haemek hospital in the northern Israeli city of Afula, Feb. 5, 2016. Dozens of Gazans have protested daily at the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross in recent weeks to demand that the Red Cross help bring about his release.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it is temporarily closing its Gaza office after protesters repeatedly tried to storm it.

Spokeswoman Suhair Zakkout said the office will operate remotely until "local authorities in Gaza provide assurances that our premises, work and staff are respected.''

Dozens of Gazans have protested daily at the office in recent weeks in solidarity with a Palestinian hunger striker detained by Israel, demanding that the Red Cross help bring about his release. They tried to enter the building forcefully on Sunday, smashing garage windows and causing other damage.

Mohammed al-Qeq, a 33-year old journalist, has been on a hunger strike for 75 days.

Israel's Shin Bet security service says al-Qeq is involved in militant activities linked to Hamas, the Islamic group that rules Gaza.

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