Palestinian protest bursts into armed violence

An anti-government protest went out of control Monday, with demonstrators throwing stones and firebombs. Security forces opened fire into the air - situation heated in the Gaza Strip ahead of Israel's pullout from the area.

Several dozen unemployed protesters gathered for a second straight day outside Khan Younis' municipal building to demand jobs. The crowd, joined by schoolchildren, began pelting riot police with rocks.

Police responded by firing tear gas and bullets into the air, and the situation quickly worsened. Protesters began throwing firebombs at the forces, and police fired wildly in the air in a futile attempt to control the crowd.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Hosni Zourab, the governor of Khan Younis, said he has relayed the protesters' concerns to the Palestinian leadership, but criticized the violence.

"Unemployment is a major and comprehensive problem for all Palestinians, not only for the people who are protesting today and those who protested yesterday," he said. "We are trying our best to solve their problems with the minimum resources that we have. Nothing can be solved through protests and attacking public properties."

About 1.3 million Palestinians live in Gaza, an impoverished strip of land along the Mediterranean coast.

The situation in Gaza has grown increasingly chaotic as rival factions vie for control ahead of Israel's withdrawal from the area. According to the AP Israel expects to complete the pullout later this month.

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