Hamas police prevented a handful of people in Gaza from demonstrating in solidarity with the Egyptian protesters demanding President Hosni Mubarak's ouster, a Gaza activist said Tuesday.
The West Bank's Palestinian Authority also squelched a pro-Egypt protest this week _ showing the rival governments' fears that the massive anti-government protests in nearby Egypt could inspire Palestinians unhappy with their own leadership to rise up against it.
Gaza activist Asma al-Ghoul said she and a small group of demonstrators had gathered Tuesday in central Gaza City when police came to stop them. She says police detained and roughed up some demonstrators.
"Everyone should enjoy the right of freedom expression," she said, adding that female police harassed her for not covering her hair and accused her of being a bad Muslim.
New York-based Human Rights watch called on Hamas to "stop arbitrarily interfering with peaceful demonstrations about Egypt or anything else."
Hamas police had no comment.
Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, has issued no official comments on the Egyptian protests but officials have said privately that change in Egypt could benefit Hamas by easing the Egyptian-Israeli blockade imposed on the impoverished coastal territory.
The Western-backed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank put down a similar protest this week _ reflecting fears of unrest among its own population.
Witnesses said more than 100 police prevented protesters from reaching the Egyptian diplomatic mission in the West Bank on Sunday. Police, outnumbering the protesters 3-to-1, shoved some protesters and threatened to hit them with clubs and arrest them. Police also prevented journalists from photographing or filming, warning they would confiscate their cameras.
The Palestinian Authority did not respond to requests for comment. While small, the protest _ like the much larger demonstrations in Egypt _ was organized over Facebook and other social networking tools.
"We called for this demonstration through the Internet, to come express solidarity with the Egyptian people and their struggle for democracy and human rights," said protester Ramzi Hazboun, 25. The Palestinian Authority considers Mubarak an ally and has not commented on the Egyptian protests. It has been at odds with Hamas since the Islamist group seized control of Gaza in 2007.