Hamas cracks down on Gaza protests over cost of living

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip on Thursday forcibly dispersed hundreds of Palestinians protesting dire living conditions in the blockaded territory.

Videos circulated on social media showed police firing live rounds in the air, beating protesters and hauling them into police vehicles. Hamas says it is restoring order after demonstrators burned tires and blocked roads.

Rights groups say Hamas arrested a dozen activists this week who were organizing the rally under the slogan: “We want to live.” The protests were centered in the northern Jebaliya refugee camp, with smaller gatherings across the territory.

Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas seized power in 2007, and the closures, coupled with mismanagement by Hamas authorities, have devastated the local economy. Hamas tax hikes have sparked further outrage.

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