Hanna: 'Very deep division' between Palestinians
(CNN) -- Protests against the U.S.-led military strikes on Afghanistan, and in support of Osama bin Laden, have been reported in the Islamic-dominated Philippines, southern Pakistan, and the Islamic flash point of Gaza, where the Palestinian Authority had to use deadly force against its own people in an attempt to control demonstrators.
CNN Jerusalem bureau chief Mike Hanna says the conflict is indicative of strained relations within the Palestinian community.
HANNA: A state of emergency has been declared in Gaza as Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority faces what is its most serious challenge to date. The flash point was a march through Gaza City, organized by supporters of the extremist Hamas movement, a march in protest against the U.S.-led action in Afghanistan and in support of Osama bin Laden.
The Palestinian Authority reacted quickly. It said the march was illegal and it sent in its security forces to break up the marchers. They did so forcibly. At least two of the demonstrators have been killed, over a hundred have been injured and a large number of arrests have been made.
The Palestinian Authority has been seeking to distance itself from any form of connection with Osama bin Laden and with any form of connection with terrorism. It has said it supports the United States in its war against terror, and it has been embarrassed by statements made by bin Laden himself creating a causal link between the situation in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and the attack in the United States in September.
So for the Palestinian Authority, it's a watershed moment, a massive crackdown on extremists and for a change, words of support from Israel. A spokesman for the Israeli government says he welcomes Yasser Arafat's attempt to crack down on what he calls terrorists and says that Mr. Arafat must be congratulated in doing so.
CNN: But does this say that there is now a real disconnect between the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority if the Palestinian people are responding to Osama bin Laden's call for protest and not following its own authority and Yasser Arafat's call as well?
HANNA: Well, once again it's symptomatic of a very deep division within Palestinian society, which is manifest as well in terms of relations to the cease-fire against Israel. In that particular case, the Palestinian Authority called for a cease-fire; many people on the ground did not follow its instruction.
Now the Palestinian Authority has said that any demonstrations in support of Osama bin Laden are outlawed, yet people go and demonstrate in support. The Palestinian Authority contends that this is a minority of Palestinians, that the vast majority of Palestinians support the U.S. war against terror and condemn all forms of terrorism against civilians.
But it is still indicative that there are elements within Palestinian society that are opposed to the U.S., that do support Osama bin Laden and now are against Yasser Arafat as well.
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