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Fatah Activists Call on Party Leaders to Resign Over Election Loss

Thousands of Palestinian activists from the once ruling Fatah party protested in Gaza Friday night and called on party leaders to resign. The demand comes after Fatah suffered a stinging election defeat at the hands of the militant Islamic group Hamas.

Young protesters took to the streets of Gaza City Friday evening venting their anger at their party's election defeat.

Some of the protesters were armed and fired shots into the air. Others threw stones and set several cars on fire. They marched on the parliament building and then to the Gaza residence of President Mahmoud Abbas, who is also known as Abu Mazen.

Palestinian journalist Mohammed Dawas witnessed the protests and spoke to VOA afterward.

"They were all young people, Fatah activists, the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, armed, in front of Abu Mazen's house asking him to resign and asking the Central Committee to resign too," he said. "It was a protest against the results of the election by Fatah losing to Hamas."

President Abbas was not at home at the time. He remains in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where he said earlier that Hamas would be asked to form a new government.

Hamas was catapulted to power Wednesday when voters handed the militant group a solid majority, 76 out of 132 seats in the legislature.

The outcome sent shock waves across the region and much of the world, with everyone watching warily what Hamas will do.

The group has carried out numerous attacks against Israel in past years and does not recognize Israel's right to exist. Israel, the United States, European nations and many others consider Hamas a terrorist organization and many world leaders have called on Hamas to change its ways if it wants to take on a political role.

The U.S. State Department said Friday it would review its aid programs to the Palestinians, saying it will not provide funding to terrorist organizations.