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PA Ministry of Education delegation denied entry into Gaza school by Hamas police

May 30, 2016 6:41 P.M. (Updated: May 30, 2016 7:35 P.M.)

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- A West Bank delegation from the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Education was denied entry into a Gaza City school on Monday, a member of the delegation told Ma'an.

The delegation, who was attempting to enter the Bashir al-Rayyis Girls' School to observe the progress of ongoing high school exams, was reportedly stopped by Hamas-affiliated police officers outside the school and prevented from going inside.

Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education Anwar Zakariyya, a member of the delegation, told Ma’an that Gaza police were aware of the impending visit, which was meant to pave the way for more cooperation and new horizons.

Zakariyya said he viewed the behavior as a “very negative step reflecting bad intentions.”

The Ministry’s Undersecretary in Gaza Ziad Thabit described the “Ramallah delegation’s visit to Gaza as protocol visit only.” The visiting delegation, he added, had yet to address the many problems facing Gaza’s education system.

The relationship between Hamas and the Fatah-dominated PA deteriorated sharply after a national unity government consisting of independent technocrats all but collapsed in June last year, one year after it was first formed.

The two Palestinian parties have been pitched against one another since Hamas won legislative elections in 2006 and subsequently fought its way to power in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian Authority officials have criticized Hamas for creating a shadow government in the Gaza Strip and blocking efforts to reach political unity.

Hamas has in turn accused the PA of executing a plan to "eradicate" it from the West Bank, saying that hundreds of its members have been arrested by PA security forces.

A new round of reconciliation talks began in Qatar earlier this year, and senior delegations from the rival Palestinian factions met in April in Gaza City.

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