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Gaza demonstrators condemn death of bin Laden

A Palestinian vendor reads the Al-Ayyam newspaper featuring photos of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden and US President Barack Obama on the front page, inside a shop in the West Bank city of Jenin, Tuesday, May 3, 2011. Headline reads in Arabic: 'Obama annouces killing of Bin Laden and his burial in the sea, worried about revenge.' A Palestinian vendor reads the Al-Ayyam newspaper featuring photos of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden and US President Barack Obama on the front page, inside a shop in the West Bank city of Jenin, Tuesday, May 3, 2011. Headline reads in Arabic: "Obama annouces killing of Bin Laden and his burial in the sea, worried about revenge." (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)
By Ibrahim Barzak
Associated Press / May 3, 2011

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip—Some two dozen Palestinians gathered in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday to pay tribute to slain al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

About 25 people holding pictures and posters of bin Laden rallied outside a Gaza City university. The crowd included al-Qaida sympathizers as well as students who said they opposed bin Laden's ideology, but were angry at the U.S. for killing him and consider him a martyr.

Hamas police did not interfere in the demonstration.

In the weeks ahead of bin Laden's death, a survey in the Arab world by the Pew Research Center found support for the al-Qaida leader had dropped dramatically in recent years -- though it remained the highest among Palestinians.

The survey said about a third of Palestinians believed bin Laden would do the right thing in world affairs, which still represented a dramatic drop from a few years ago when overwhelming numbers approved of him.

On Monday, Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of Gaza's Hamas government, condemned the U.S. operation against bin Laden, whom he hailed as a "Muslim and Arab warrior." Still, the Islamic Hamas has always distanced itself from al-Qaida's militant Islamic ideology, saying its battle is against Israel, not the West.

Al-Qaida's supporters have often accused Hamas of being too moderate and clashed with them.

Israel's Channel 2 TV broadcast video Tuesday from Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam's third-holiest site, showing a Palestinian preacher mourning bin Laden, calling him "a hero" and "a lion of Islam," cursing President Barack Obama, and hurling insults at Pope John Paul II.

The video showed him preaching to a few dozen listeners.

In Israel, police said they beefed up security around sensitive sites, including the airport, the U.S. Embassy, the U.S. consulate and areas where U.S. officials live, in case of revenge attacks.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld characterized the reinforcements as precautionary.

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