GAZA - Hamas sharply criticized the arrest of dozens of its members by Palestinian Authority police in the West Bank on Wednesday, underscoring dire relations between the Islamist group and its Fatah-dominated rival after a failed bid for reconciliation.
President Mahmoud Abbas' Western-backed Palestinian Authority denied any political motives behind the round-up, which saw as many as 71 people detained, and said it had targeted criminals and that many were freed after questioning.
The detentions came at a time of renewed friction between Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and Abbas, who holds sway in the West Bank.
"Everyday, Abbas surprises us, confirming that he is harming our people and our parties," said senior Hamas lawmaker Ismail Al-Ashqar, after news of the West Bank arrests. He urged fellow Palestinians to "reject" Abbas and to "bring him before justice for his anti-national deeds".
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