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Hamas security forces detain several Fatah leaders across Gaza Strip

May 3, 2017 4:41 P.M. (Updated: May 3, 2017 10:17 P.M.)
(File)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas security forces in Gaza arrested several leaders affiliated with the rival Fatah movement from the northern Gaza Strip, while several others were summoned over the past 24 hours across the besieged coastal enclave, according to a Wednesday report from the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights.

The center reported that said internal security services in Gaza -- which is governed by the Hamas movement -- arrested Fatah leaders from different areas across the northern Gaza Strip, and detained them at a police station in the Jabaliya refugee camp to prevent a march that Fatah had called for on Wednesday.

The Fatah movement had planned a march to take place on Wednesday in support of Fatah leader and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners.

The Fatah march was organized just one day after Hamas suspended schools and government offices to encourage people to take part in rallies, which involved Palestinians from across the political spectrum, in the Gaza Strip to express opposition to Abbas and the decade-long Israeli siege of the small Palestinian territory.

Secretaries of the Fatah movement in Gaza had reportedly received calls from people who identified themselves as members of the Gaza security services, notifying them that activities by the Fatah movement were banned.

According to al-Mezan, Hamas security forces obstructed the path of a vehicle transporting Fatah leaders Abdullah Abu al-Kas, Nael Abu Qamar and Amin Salman and arrested them on Tuesday.

Ten other Fatah leaders who were summoned by security services arrived to the Jabaliya refugee camp police center. Al-Mezan identified the ten as Walid Sbeih, Diyaa Jaber, Adnan al-Ajrami, Maher Abu Herbid, Adel Jumaa, Iyad al-Matlan, Saleh Quddas, Awwad al-Halul, Iskandar Huweihi and Aqil Sheikh Eid.

Six of them were released on the condition that they return to turn themselves in on Wednesday, while four remained in custody along with al-Kas, Abu Qamar and Salman.

Meanwhile, Gaza security forces summoned several Fatah-affiliates and leaders from across the Gaza strip.

Twelve of them -- who remained in custody as of Wednesday -- were identified by al-Mezan as Ramed Ziyad Mteir, Hazem Abd al-Rafe al-Khawaja, Muhammad Ahmad al-Taramsi, Mahmoud Ashour, Iyad Rafe Halas, Nayif Khweiter, Rami Halas, Ahmad al-Naasan, Munther Yousif al-Hayik, Saadi Halas, Jihad Quzaat and Muhammad al-Wahidi.

In response, Fatah's Central Committee released a statement warning that "the movement will protect its members and won't allow Hamas to harm the national battle of freedom and dignity which the Palestinian people are fighting and which is led by the hero prisoners."

Accusing Hamas of attempting to undermine the hunger strike, the committee added that "we won't stand aside and watch Hamas impeding the path of the prisoners' movement and thwarting the achievements made in support of the movement."

The statement added that by banning activities Fatah organizes in Gaza to support prisoners in the last two days, "Hamas is complicit with the occupation to break the prisoners' will and thwart the hunger strike without any achievements."

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri wrote on his twitter account in response that the committee's statement "turned facts upside down". The Fatah movement, he added, instructed its supporters in Gaza "to take advantage" of the prisoners' hunger strike "and take to the streets to show support to president Mahmoud Abbas ahead of his meeting with U.S president Donald Trump."

The detentions came as the latest in a series of escalations between Hamas and Fatah in the besieged Gaza Strip, with tensions exacerbated by the ongoing electricity crisis in Gaza.

High-level Hamas official Ahmad Yousif told Ma’an on Saturday that the situation in Gaza could implode at any moment, lashing out at the Fatah-led PA for its role in the deteriorating situation.

Numerous attempts have been made in the past to reconcile Hamas and Fatah since they came into violent conflict in 2007, shortly after Hamas’ 2006 victory in general elections held in the Gaza Strip.

However, Palestinian leadership has repeatedly failed to follow through on promises of reconciliations, as both movements have frequently blamed each other for numerous political failures.

United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov released a statement earlier this month expressing his “deep concerns” over the “growing tensions” in Gaza.

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