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Gaza court sentences 8 Fatah members to prison, including 3 for life, for spying

Jan. 25, 2017 10:41 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 28, 2017 5:02 P.M.)
GAZA (Ma’an) -- A Gaza military court sentenced eight Palestinians affiliated to the Fatah party -- three of whom to life in prison -- for allegedly gathering information about Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza for intelligence forces of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

The court, which only identified the defendants by their initials, said that the eight were convicted of “harming the Palestinian people’s interests” by coordinating to collect information about resistance factions in the besieged Gaza Strip, including on tunnels built by groups such as Hamas.

M.A., 50, a colonel in the PLO Preventive Security Forces; H.M., 45, a major in the PLO Preventive Security Forces; S.A., 37, with alleged unspecified ties to the PLO, were sentenced to life in prison with hard labor.

T.A., 36, another unspecified member of the PLO, was sentenced to 15 years in prison with temporary hard labor.

Sh.A., 37, and F.M., 33, both unspecified PLO members, were sentenced to 10 years in prison with temporary hard labor.

A.M., 37, a PLO sub-officer, and M.A., 32, an unspecified member of the PLO, were sentenced to seven years in prison with hard labor.

A Fatah military leader in Gaza, Zaki al-Sakani, said in a statement that the political movement -- which leads the Palestinian Authority government in the occupied West Bank -- was shocked by this move against members of Fatah and the PLO.

He added that the convictions showed that “people” were insisting on maintaining Palestinian political disunity.

The sentencing comes as Fatah and Hamas officials met earlier this month to discuss political reconciliation and the eventual formation of a unity government, with Fatah officials affirming that the internal Palestinian divisions “should end in a short time.”

Reports of reconciliation talks in past weeks have come as Hamas and the PA have exchanged accusations of carrying out “politically motivated” arrests, and blamed each other for an ongoing electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip which left the majority of Palestinians there with only three hours of power a day for more than a week.

Fatah and Hamas have been embroiled in conflict since Hamas' election victory in 2006 elections in the Gaza Strip, which erupted into a violent conflict between the two movements as both attempted to consolidate control over the territory.

Despite numerous attempts at reconciling the groups, Palestinian leadership has so far repeatedly failed to follow through on promises of reconciliation and holding of long-overdue elections, as both movements have frequently blamed each other for numerous political failures.
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