Palestinian militants of the Islamist movement Hamas' military wing Al-Qassam Brigades.
(photo credit: SAID KHATIB / AFP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction claimed on Monday that Hamas has arrested 500 of its activists and officials in the Gaza Strip.
Fatah spokesmen said the arrests were designed to prevent the men from celebrating the 54th anniversary of the launching of its first attack against Israel.
“Our sons have been arrested [by Hamas] because of their insistence on celebrating this anniversary,” said Atef Abu Seif, a senior Fatah official in the Gaza Strip
. Hamas, he added, was “kidnapping Fatah men from the streets, raiding their homes and confiscating posters and other material that were supposed to be used during our rallies.” He also accused Hamas of torturing some of the detainees.
Recently, the PA security forces used force to disperse Hamas supporters who took to the streets of Hebron and Nablus to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the founding of Hamas.
Jamal Muheissen, another senior Fatah official, said the Hamas crackdown will not stop the faction from proceeding with its plan to hold rallies throughout the Gaza Strip.
Fatah officials in the West Bank on Monday accused supporters of deposed Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan of helping Hamas in its crackdown on their members. Dahlan, a former PA security commander, was expelled from Fatah seven years ago after falling out with Abbas. He has since been living in the United Arab Emirates. The PA has accused Dahlan of working to undermine Abbas’s authority and involvement in financial corruption.
The officials said they did not rule out the possibility that Hamas would allow Dahlan’s supporters to hold their own rally in the Gaza Strip to celebrate the anniversary of the launching of the first attack against Israel.
The Hamas-controlled Ministry of the Interior denied Fatah’s claim that 500 men had been arrested. A ministry spokesman said 38 people from various parts of the Gaza Strip “were summoned for questioning as part of measures to maintain calm and order.” All the men have been released, the Hamas spokesman added.
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