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Hamas and Fatah: Palestinian brothers at war

For decades, Palestinians have been fighting against Israel for statehood and asking for recognition from the international community. But there is also a ferocious struggle for power between them: Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Arrests, threats and even torture are commonplace when it comes to silencing supporters of the other side. FRANCE 24’s reporters have been to the Palestinian territories to investigate.

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Palestinians have not been to the polls since 2006. Back then, Hamas's victory in the parliamentary elections provoked a political earthquake in the eyes of the international community and destabilised the local political scene. A year later, the Islamist movement took up arms to monopolise power in the Gaza Strip, resulting in extremely violent clashes between Hamas and Fatah. The feud between the two factions reached a new low. Since then, a more discreet but equally cruel confrontation has been playing out between the two warring sides.

Fatah, which dominates the Palestinian Authority, remains in charge of the West Bank, while Hamas holds sway over the Gaza Strip. In late 2018, Human Rights Watch published a report entitled "Two Authorities, One Way, Zero Dissent”. The NGO denounced what it called “machineries of repression to crush dissent”. Arbitrary arrests, intimidation and even torture are commonplace, both in Gaza and the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority – supported by almost the whole international community – is also discreetly silencing all opposing voices. Human Rights Watch’s regional director Omar Shakir says it is even harder to be a Hamas member in the West Bank – hounded by both Israeli forces and the Palestinian Authority – than a Fatah supporter in the Gaza Strip.

FRANCE 24’s reporters have been to the Palestinian territories, where they met with representatives of both sides and victims of abuse.

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