Palestinians say 3 wounded at protests for prisoners

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Hamas is planning to release a new policy document announcing that the organization no longer calls for the destruction of Israel, according to a source who was interviewed by Reuters.

The position was made official on Monday in Qatar's capital, Doha, by Khaled Meshaal, the leader-in-exile of the Palestinian group that runs the besieged Gaza Strip.

By implication, the document accepts that there will be another state entity outside these borders, even if it does not mention Israel.

The split between the two groups - Fatah in the West Bank, Hamas in Gaza - has stood as one of the major obstacles in the peace process with Israel: Who, the Israelis ask, is their partner if the Palestinians are so deeply divided?

However, the new document offers no recognition of the legitimacy of the "Zionist enemy", the term Hamas uses for Israel. But the contrast is stark between widespread indifference to another attempt by Abbas to resume U.S.-led negotiations with Israel on Palestinian statehood and the Palestinian public's emotional show of support for the prisoners.

The new political program of Hamas, published Monday, is meant to help the Islamic militant group break out of its global isolation. DECADES OF CONFLICT Founded in 1987 as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, the banned Egyptian Islamist movement, Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since 2007 and has carried out hundreds of armed attacks in Israel and in Israeli-occupied territories.

"Hamas is trying to walk a fine line between its hardliners and its own moderates", said Abu Saada of al-Azhar University.


Hamas as a whole, or in some cases its military wing, is designated a terrorist group by Israel, the US, EU, UK and other powers.

Led by longstanding Palestinian prisoner Marwan Barghouti, more than 1,500 Palestinian prisoners began an open-ended hunger strike on April 17 to demand more prison visits, better medical care and improved treatment for female inmates.

"As Christians, we are sent to work for the liberation of every human being, and for the establishment of a human society in which there is equality for all, Israelis and Palestinians", they said.

Israel rejected the document before its full publication, with a spokesman for the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, saying: "Hamas is attempting to fool the world, but it will not succeed".

The "day of rage" was called for by Fatah, the political party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and the national committee to support the prisoners' hunger strike.

No peace in Palestine can be based on the injustice of the Palestinian people and the rape of their land.

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