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Hamas security prevents Fatah Central Committee member from leaving Gaza

July 1, 2017 4:58 P.M. (Updated: July 1, 2017 8:01 P.M.)
Fatah Central committee member Ahmad Halas
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Fatah movement said in a statement on Saturday that security forces of Gaza’s Hamas-run Ministry of Interior prevented a Fatah Central Committee member from leaving the besieged territory, after he was rejected at a Hamas checkpoint located before the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing.

Ahmad Halas, member of Fatah’s Central Committee, was prevented from leaving the Gaza Strip on his way to Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, according to the movement.

The statement accused Hamas, the de facto leaders of Gaza, of acting “against national (Palestinian) values.”

The movement also said that the incident came “at the same time that Fatah seeks to end divisions out of national responsibility and the higher good of Palestinians and the Palestinian cause,” while Hamas “insists on escalating and rejecting national unity.”

Fatah called upon Hamas to end its divisive actions and policies.

Hamas authorities have often been accused of targeting Fatah officials in Gaza through detentions and restricting their freedom of movement.

However, the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank itself has been the focus of fierce condemnation in recent weeks after being accused of deliberately sending the impoverished Gaza Strip further into a humanitarian catastrophe in order to wrestle control of the territory from Hamas.

In May, the PA decided to slash funding for Israeli fuel to the coastal enclave, and requested that Israeli authorities dramatically reduce its supply of electricity to Gaza, which was already reeling from lack of adequate access to electricity and fuel.

Other policies implemented by the PA in recent weeks, including allegedly halting medical referrals to patients in Gaza to receive medical treatment outside of the territory -- which led to the deaths of 3 newborns and 11 others over the previous three months -- has been condemned by Hamas, the international community, and many Palestinians.

At the same time, patients in Gaza have been forced to apply for permits to exit the territory for treatment owing to the lack of medicine and equipment after the PA cut its funding to the medical sector in the besieged enclave, which has seen the typical $4 million monthly budget of Gaza’s health ministry plummet to just $500,000.

The PA caused anger in Gaza in April after cutting salaries to its Gaza-based employees by up to 30 percent, while the PA has also decided to discontinue payments to some 277 former political prisoners of Israel, which some have said targets former prisoners in Gaza and those affiliated with Hamas in the West Bank.

Meanwhile, the Hamas movement has routinely reported that the PA has targeted their members during police raids, in what the group said were politically motivated detentions.

The PA also decided last month to block 11 Palestinian news websites -- all allegedly affiliated with either the Hamas movement or Muhammad Dahlan, a political rival of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, which has been condemned by rights groups as a "serious violation of freedom of the press and expression."

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.
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