The armed wing of Hamas, Izzadin Kassam, threatened on Wednesday to target Palestinian Authority officials in response to the continued crackdown on the movement’s supporters in the West Bank.

The threat, the first of its kind in the past few years, is seen as a severe blow to renewed efforts to achieve reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

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Representatives of the two parties are scheduled to meet on October 20 for a second round of talks aimed at ending the power struggle between them.

Fatah’s armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, condemned the Hamas attempt to “stage a coup” against the PA in the West Bank.

The threat was issued by Abu Obaida, spokesman for Izzadin Kassam. Surrounded by masked men, he said Hamas could no longer remain silent about the PA’s security measures against its supporters in the West Bank.

“We have run out of patience,” Abu Obaida said.

“The Palestinian Authority security forces have crossed the red lines.”

He said that Hamas and other Palestinian groups have remained silent until now to give a chance to efforts to end the dispute with Fatah.

“If the reconciliation efforts don’t stop the arrests and court sentences against Hamas members, no one should blame us if we target symbols of the Palestinian Authority wherever they are,” he said.

Abu Obaida said the PA was continuing to hold hundreds of “political detainees” in its jails in the West Bank. Some of them were being tortured, he said, while others have gone on hunger strike.

The threat to target PA officials in the West Bank also came in response to the sentencing of two top Hamas activists to lengthy prison terms by a PA “military court” earlier this week. Ala Diab was sentenced to 20 years in jail, while Abdel Fattah Shraim got 12 years.

Both men are from Kalkilya.

Several other armed groups in the Gaza Strip joined the Hamas threat. They include Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, an alliance of several terrorist groups.

Fatah reacted to the threat by warning Hamas against attempting to overthrow the PA in the West Bank.

The Aksa Martyrs Brigades said Hamas’s prisons in the Gaza Strip were full of Fatah members and supporters, including some who had carried out “military operations” against Israel.

The Fatah group threatened to target senior Hamas officials if the Islamist movement carried out its threat.

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