Was Palestinian prisoner Maissara Abu Hamdiyeh, who died of cancer on Tuesday, a
member of Hamas or of Fatah? The rival parties have each endorsed Abu Hamdiyeh,
who held the rank of general in the Palestinian Authority security
In the Gaza Strip, Hamas declared Abu Hamdiyeh one of its
“martyrs,” and its representatives have begun receiving condolences over his
Hamas put up large posters of Abu Hamdiyeh in which he is also
described as a member of one of its clandestine armed groups.
officials who tried to protest against Hamas’s endorsement of Abu Hamdiyeh were
prevented by Hamas activists from handling their own posters of the deceased
In a statement published shortly after his death, Hamas’s armed
wing, Izaddin Kassam, revealed that he had been active in its secret group
almost from the beginning of its establishment in 1989.
boasted that Abu Hamdiyeh had trained its men and delivered weapons and
explosives to Hamas cells.
But Fatah activists claimed Wednesday that Abu
Hamdiyeh was one of their own. Ibrahim Elayan, a top Fatah activist and former
security prisoner in Israel, said that Abu Hamdiyeh was one of the leaders of
Fatah in prison. He said that Abu Hamdiyeh had only recently moved to a section
of prison where Hamas prisoners are being held.
“Abu Hamdiyeh never filed
an official request to move to Hamas in accordance with prison regulations,”
He told the Fatah-affiliated Palestine Press News Agency
that Fatah has notified other Palestinian factions that Abu Hamdiyeh was one of
However, Hamas chose to ignore the Fatah claim and decided to
set up an “obituary tent” for receiving condolences over the death of Abu
Hamdiyeh, Elayan said.
Abu Hamdiyeh arrived in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip together with thousands of PLO men following the signing of the Oslo
According to the Fatah activist, Abu Hamdiyeh – who joined the
PA security forces in the West Bank – helped Fatah’s armed wing, al-Aksa
Martyrs’ Brigade, during the second intifada.
Elayan admitted that Abu
Hamdiyeh also used his military expertise to supply members of Hamas’s armed
wing with weapons in the West Bank.
A PA official confirmed that Abu
Hamdiyeh had served in the PA’s Preventive Security Force in Hebron.
official said that Abu Hamdiyeh had been in charge of the force’s
“counterespionage” unit, but quit following a dispute with his superiors.