Hamas responded angrily yesterday to the arrests of dozens of its members in the West Bank by the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA), emphasising the rifts between the two factions.
It is reported that the PA made up to 71 arrests on Tuesday night of Hamas supporters and activists in the West Bank. The arrests were apparently made by the PA’s General Intelligence Service and Preventive Security Force.
PA officials have recently accused Hamas of exploiting the recent West Bank protests against the high cost of living to topple their authority. Adnan Dmeiri, spokesman for the PA security services loyal to PA President Mahmoud Abbas said that the number of reported arrests had been exaggerated and that many suspects had been freed following questioning.
He told Reuters, ‘Arrests were made all over the West Bank in a legal fashion, involving cases of possession of weapons, incitement, money-laundering and attempts to transfer the Gaza takeover into the West Bank.’
However, Hamas lawmaker Ismail Al-Ashqar commented, ‘Everyday, Abbas surprises us, confirming that he is harming our people and our parties’ and urged Palestinians to bring Abbas ‘before justice for his anti-national deeds.’
Tensions between Hamas and the PA had already been running high this week. On Tuesday, PA Chairman Abbas summoned the Egyptian envoy to Ramallah to insist that Cairo stop dealing with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who had been officially received in the Egyptian capital days earlier.