Hamas and Fatah on Wednesday traded charges over who’s responsible for the phenomenon of Palestinians fleeing the Gaza Strip.
Dozens of would-be Palestinian immigrants have been killed or have gone missing after the boats carrying them capsized off the shores of Egypt and Libya.
Fatah officials in the West Bank claimed that senior Hamas officials were involved in the illegal immigration of Palestinians.
The officials said Hamas collects $3,500 from every Palestinians who seeks to leave the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing.
Those who wish to leave the Gaza Strip through a tunnel are required to pay $2,000 each.
The Palestinian Authority’s official Wafa news agency reported that Egyptian human traffickers in Sinai were also involved in the scheme.
The agency said that the Palestinians seeking to immigrate to Europe were leaving because of pressure from Hamas against anyone who does not belong to the Islamist movement. It said that others were also fleeing the Gaza Strip for economic reasons.
“The Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing is a mafia run by Hamas,” Wafa said. It also accused Hamas of distributing aid to the Gaza Strip only among its followers.
In response, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called on Fatah to stop its “systematic campaign of incitement” against Hamas.
Abu Zuhri strongly denied Hamas involvement in the exodus from the Gaza Strip, dubbing the Fatah charges “lies designed to tarnish the Palestinian resistance.”
Sources in the Gaza Strip said that Hamas security forces have arrested a number of tunnel owners involved in the smuggling of Palestinians.
The sources said that Hamas has also taken security measures to stop Palestinians from fleeing the Gaza Strip. According to the sources, Hamas has also arrested a number of Palestinians who returned to the Gaza Strip after failing to reach their destination.