In yet another episode of the ongoing bickering between rival Palestinian factions, security forces belonging to the Islamic militant group Hamas have arrested Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' top representatives in the Gaza Strip.
GAZA - Hamas security forces arrested Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's top Fatah representatives in the Gaza Strip on Friday, ratcheting up tensions between the rival factions.
A day earlier Abbas ordered his Fatah-dominated security
services in the West Bank to release all pro-Hamas activists,
according to the official Palestinian WAFA news agency. Hamas
said the activists had not yet been freed.
Hamas security men detained Ibrahim Abu an-Naja and Zakaria
al-Agha, who were appointed by Abbas to oversee Fatah in the
Gaza Strip after Hamas Islamists seized control a year ago,
Fatah officials said.
Hamas forces also arrested three local governors appointed
by Abbas, whose West Bank-based government is backed by the
United States and other Western powers.
Hamas leader Sami Abu Zuhri said the arrests in the Gaza
Strip were meant to put pressure on Abbas's security forces to
release Hamas activists detained in the occupied West Bank.
He accused Abbas's forces of trying to "liquidate" Hamas and
described the Gaza arrests as "temporary and limited".
Despite Abbas's order on Thursday, Abu Zuhri said none of
the Hamas men have been freed. "When political arrests end in
the West Bank, everything else will come to an end," he said.
Fatah official Abdallah Abdallah condemned the Gaza arrests,
saying they "constitute the destruction of any Palestinian and
Arab call to end the schism" between Hamas and Fatah.
Tensions between the factions spiked a week ago after a
series of bombings in the Gaza Strip, one of which killed five
Hamas members and a girl. Hamas blamed Fatah for the blasts, a
charge Fatah denied.
Hundreds of Palestinians have since been arrested in
week-long tit-for-tat crackdowns by Fatah in the West Bank and
Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Date created : 2008-08-01