( AP ) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday called for the overthrow of Gaza's Islamic Hamas rulers, his first explicit call that they be removed.
"We have to bring down this bunch that took over Gaza with armed force, and is abusing the sufferings and pains of our people," Abbas said in a speech in Ramallah.
In the past, the Palestinian leader, who has set up a separate government in the West Bank, has never gone beyond demanding that Hamas apologize for overrunning Gaza and reverse the deed.
Abbas spoke days after Hamas forces opened fire on a massive rally by his Fatah movement in Gaza City. Eight civilians were killed and dozens were wounded in the strongest Fatah challenge to Hamas rule since the Hamas takeover.