Palestinian demonstrators condemn death of bin Laden

Some two dozen Palestinians gathered in the Gaza Strip on May 3 to praise Osama bin Laden, a day after Hamas condemned the killing of the al Qaida leader and mourned him as an “Arab holy warrior.”

Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of Gaza’s Hamas government, told reporters that the group regards bin Laden’s death “as a continuation of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood.” He also noted that Hamas has always distanced itself from al Qaida’s militant Islamic ideology, saying its battle is against Israel, not the West.

Meanwhile, in East Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood, dozens of Arab residents held a rally in support of bin Laden, reported. Some of the participants at the site hurled stones at Israel police forces. The police responded with crowd dispersal means, and there were no reports of injuries or detainees, Ynetnews reported.

A day later, about 25 people holding pictures and posters of bin Laden rallied outside a Gaza City university. The gathering included some students who said they opposed bin Laden’s ideology but were angry at the U.S. for killing him and consider him a martyr.

Israel’s Channel 2 broadcast video May 3 from Jerusalem’s al Aksa mosque compound showing a Palestinian preacher mourning bin Laden, calling him “a hero” and “a lion of Islam,” cursing President Barack Obama and hurling insults at Pope John Paul II.

In the weeks ahead of bin Laden’s death, a survey in the Arab world by the Pew Research Center found support for the al Qaida leader had dropped dramatically in recent years, though it remained the highest among Palestinians.

Al Qaida’s supporters have often accused Hamas of being too moderate, but bin Laden made various statements over the years in support of the Palestinians and against Israel. He had declared that Muslims were engaged in a war against Jews, and in March 2010 he slammed the United States for “its support of Israel and the ongoing occupation in Palestine.”  — ap