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Palestinians arrest over 50 Hamas militants

Latest update : 2008-07-28

Security forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas have arrested over 50 Hamas militants in the West Bank after the Islamic movement rounded up hundreds of Fatah members in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian security forces arrested over 50 Hamas members in the occupied West Bank on Monday, a security official said, after the Islamist movement rounded up hundreds of its rivals in the Gaza Strip.
   
Security forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas carried out the arrests in and around the northern West Bank town of Nablus against "those suspected of inciting civil strife," the official told AFP.
   
All but one of the detainees are Hamas members, and those arrested include several prominent local leaders and university professors.
   
The official declined to say whether the crackdown was linked to the arrest of over 300 members of Abbas's Fatah party in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip but said there would likely be more arrests later in the day.
   
Hamas meanwhile halted the distribution of the three main Palestinian newspapers, Al-Ayyam, Al-Quds and Al-Hayat Al-Jedida, in the Gaza Strip, according to Sami al-Qishawi, a senior manager at Al-Ayyam.
   
"They did not give any reason," Qishawi told AFP, adding that Hamas-run security forces had halted the shipments of the papers at the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza.
   
Al-Hayat Al-Jedida is considered close to Abbas's West Bank authority.
   
The two main Palestinian factions have been bitterly divided since Hamas seized power in Gaza in June 2007 after driving Abbas's security forces out of the impoverished territory in a week of bloody street battles.
   
The rift deepened when Hamas blamed Fatah for a beachside Gaza City bombing on Friday that killed five senior Hamas militants and a five-year-old girl, the deadliest attack on the Islamist movement since it seized power.
   
Fatah has denied any involvement in the attack, which it said was part of an internal Hamas conflict.
   
Since the Hamas takeover, Abbas's authority has been confined to the occupied West Bank, where his forces have been pressing a months-old security crackown aimed at underpinning US-backed Middle East peace talks.
 

Date created : 2008-07-28

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