Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday released seven Fatah activists who had been sentenced to prison for security-related offenses.

The Fatah men were released 48 hours after Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh announced a series of measures to pave the way for reconciliation with Fatah.

The measures, which have been welcomed by Fatah leaders, also include the return of Fatah activists who fled the Gaza Strip to their homes.

Islam Shahwan, spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry, said that the Fatah activists were released as part of Haniyeh’s measures to “consolidate national reconciliation.”

Shahwan said that Hamas was doing its utmost to achieve reconciliation with Fatah and “strengthen the internal front.”

He said that the release of the Fatah activists would be followed by additional “positive steps” to end the dispute between the two parties.

Shahwan said that the release of the Fatah men proves that the Hamas government is serious in its efforts to achieve this goal.

Following Haniyeh’s initiative, Fatah announced that it would send its top official, Azzam al-Ahmed, to the Gaza Strip soon, to pursue efforts to end the dispute with Hamas.

Al-Ahmed said on Wednesday that contacts between Fatah and Hamas have not stopped.

He said that he has been in contact with Hamas representative Musa Abu Marzouk over the past few months.

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