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Hamas to 'allow Fatah members to return to Gaza'

Dec. 2, 2012 8:37 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 3, 2012 9:50 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas will allow twenty Fatah members who fled Gaza during fighting in 2007 to return to the coastal enclave, a Fatah official said Sunday.

Jamal Ubeid, a member of Fatah's high committee in Gaza, told Ma'an that the party had been officially informed about the decision by Hamas, although a list of names has not yet been received.

Earlier Sunday, Gaza's interior ministry spokesman Islam Shahwan told Ma'an that Fatah members who had fled to Egypt would be allowed to return to the Gaza Strip.

"Fatah supporters will return to Gaza on Monday via the Rafah crossing after they complete legal procedures, and nobody will harass them at any rate," Shahwan said.

Around 400 Fatah members fled the Gaza Strip during 2007 fighting with Hamas and 56 party affiliates are in Gaza's jails for political reasons, a Fatah official said this week.

The latest move by Hamas comes as both factions recently pledged to grant amnesties to rival supporters linked to fighting in 2007.

PLO official Nabil Shaath told Ma'an last week that dozens of Hamas prisoners held for political reasons will be released as a goodwill gesture to boost reconciliation efforts.

Hamas had earlier indicated that they would free prisoners affiliated to Fatah, giving further momentum to reconciliation efforts since Israel's war on the coastal enclave.

The parties fought bitterly after Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006, splitting into separate governments in Gaza and the West Bank a year later.
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