Thousands of Palestinians protest against economic boycott by the West

In the West Bank city of Nablus, 2,500 marchers chanted slogans in support of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The protesters carried red, green, black and white Palestinian flags and a banner reading "We reject donations associated with humiliation."

The West has frozen hundreds of millions of dollars in aid payments to the Palestinian Authority since the Hamas government took office in late March. Despite the international pressure, the Islamic group has stuck to its refusal to recognize Israel and Israeli-Palestinian agreements and has not renounced violence against the Jewish state.

Without the aid, Hamas has been unable to pay 165,000 government employees, the backbone of the Palestinian labor force. Trying to keep morale high among the public, Hamas called this week on Palestinians to take to the streets to demonstrate against the cut in aid.

Thousands of Palestinians also demonstrated in Khan Younis and Gaza City in the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank city of Ramallah.

In Gaza's Jebaliya refugee camp, thousands of supporters of the rival Fatah Party held a prayer service to protest what they said are efforts by Hamas to take control of the local mosque.

Hamas took office after trouncing Fatah, the long-ruling Palestinian party, in legislative elections earlier this year. Tensions between the sides remain high.

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