Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called for the overthrow of Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules the Gaza Strip. VOA's Jim Teeple reports the call was made during a crackdown by Hamas against journalists and members of the rival Fatah faction in Gaza.
Just days after Hamas militants fired on a large crowd commemorating the third anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, Mr. Arafat's successor, told Palestinians the time has come to overthrow Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Mr. Abbas says Palestinians are suffering under Hamas rule in Gaza, and the group should be removed - by force if necessary. He says Hamas rule gives Israel the excuse it needs to continue what he described as its siege against the Palestinians.
It is the first time the Palestinian president has directly called for the overthrow of Hamas. Previously he has said only that Hamas should apologize for its rebellion against his Fatah forces in June, when Hamas seized control of Gaza.
Hamas militants have expanded their crackdown following the violence surrounding Monday's march in Gaza City. The Hamas interior minister says from now on there will be restrictions on public gatherings and political rallies.
Hamas has also detained several journalists, saying reporters who wish to work in Gaza must apply for Hamas-issued press cards. The move has been criticized by the Israel-based Foreign Press Association, which calls the order harassment, and says Hamas has recently engaged in a policy of intimidation against Palestinian journalists working in Gaza.