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Gazans call for Abbas' resignation at rally against Palestinian Authority

Palestinian protestors seen at a protest in Gaza's Saraya Square, calling for the resignation of Mahmoud Abbas

Thousands of Palestinians gathered in the Gaza Strip today calling for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to step down.

In the first unified act of defiance against the incumbent president, Palestinians took to Saraya Square and chanted "Go, go, Abbas, that's the demand of the people."

Osama Abu Askar, a Palestinian who is disabled as a result of an Israeli air raid on the Gaza Strip, said he joined the rally "to confirm that we condemn Mahmoud Abbas' measures against the injured who sacrificed their lives for our country. We ask Abbas either to step down or come to his own people and help them."

Abbas has repeatedly cut funding to the Gaza Strip over the past couple of years, including slashing payments to civil servants, forcing scores in to retirement and reducing monthly salaries of Palestinians injured and imprisoned by the occupation.

READ: 15-year-old Palestinian killed by Israeli army gunfire

The mother of Mosa Abu Hasanein who was killed by Israeli sniper fire while providing medical care for protesters who were taking part in the "Great March of Return" on 14 May, added: "I came here today to ask Abbas to resign. He doesn't deserve to be a president since he cuts the salaries of his people. My son used to do his job well. He was murdered while treating the injured people in the massive Great Return demonstrations near the separation fence with Israel. But the president rewarded him after his death by cutting his salary, even though he died for his people and his country."

Abbas' presidential term officially ended in 2009, but he has remained in office in the absence of elections. As a result, demonstrators also are calling for general elections

she added Protesting as European and Arab leaders gathered in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh only a few kilometres away, organisers said Abbas "is no longer a representative of the Palestinians."

"We will continue our activities against Abbas until he resigns. We will also contact the ICC to sue him for the cutting off his own people's salaries, since he violates Palestinian and international law," organiser Ziyad Abu Taha added."How can a president punish his own people and his own staff to put pressure on his opponents?" Nehal Al-Juiadi asked, in reference to measures Abbas has taken against the besieged Gaza Strip in order to weaken support for his rival Mohammed Dahlan and the ruling Hamas government.

Over the past year, Abbas has cut budgets allocated to Gaza to pressure Hamas to return control of the Strip to the PA. While he has reinstated some of the funds he originally froze, Gaza's Hamas rulers continue to criticise him for not restoring all of the funds.

Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority (PA) paid just 25 per cent of the salaries of its employees in the Gaza Strip.

News piece by Wafa Al-Udaini

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