Former Fatah security chief Muhammed Dahlan said Wednesday that he was not surprised by Hamas's "coup" in the Gaza Strip and that he had warned various parties about the Islamic movement's plans.
He also accused Iran and Qatar of providing Hamas with hundreds of millions of dollars.
Dahlan, who is a Fatah member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, has been accused by Hamas of conspiring with the US and Israel to remove the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority unity government from power. He is also under attack from some Fatah leaders and activists who hold him responsible for the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip.
His remarks came amid growing pressure on PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to negotiate with Hamas on a solution to the current crisis.
Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have advised Abbas to resume talks with Hamas leaders over the formation of a second unity government, a top PA official in Ramallah said. He told The Jerusalem Post that Abbas's position remained that there would be no dialogue with Hamas until it apologized for what it did in the Gaza Strip and withdrew its men from all the PA offices and security headquarters that they had occupied.
Hamas, for its part, welcomed Arab calls for dialogue with Fatah, but said it would not accept pre-conditions. Hamas spokesman Ayman Abu Taha said that in any case his movement was not keen on talking to a "bunch of murderers" in Fatah.
"I was not surprised by the coup in the Gaza Strip," Dahlan said. "I knew about Hamas's plans and I told different parties about this so we could try to thwart them."
Asked why the numerically superior Fatah-controlled PA security forces were rapidly defeated by Hamas, Dahlan said: "The Palestinian security establishment was never prepared for internal fighting.
"Since the beginning of the [second] intifada in 2000 our security forces faced systematic destruction by Israel. The Israelis destroyed 280 security installations in the past seven years and Hamas continued to destroy security installations before they launched their coup."
Dahlan pointed out that Hamas militiamen had raided the central prison in Gaza City and freed murderers. "They claim that they have just now liberated the Gaza Strip for the second time [after Israel's 2005 disengagement]," he said. "The Hamas men have Fatah blood on their hands. They forgot that Fatah protected them when they were being chased by Israel."
Dahlan denied that he had played any role in the Hamas-Fatah clashes that preceded the takeover, saying he had been abroad for nearly two months for surgery. "I was not in charge of security in the Gaza Strip," he said. "I was out of the country because I had to undergo surgery. This is not a personal matter because Hamas has been targeting our people and institutions over the past three years."
Dahlan lashed out at Qatar and Iran, accusing them of giving Hamas $400 million each. He also accused Qatar of turning its Al-Jazeera TV network into an organ of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
"For decades, Iran never paid the Palestinians one dollar," he said. "But they gave Hamas $400m. that went to Hamas's bank accounts, and not to the Palestinian people.
"Qatar also gave Hamas another $400m. that was used to slaughter Palestinians."
Dahlan said Iran had trained many Hamas militiamen. "Our people are the victims of regional and international meddling in our affairs," he said.
He also said that Hamas was founded with the support of Israel, to fight the PLO and Fatah. "Everyone knows that Israel established Hamas back then so that it could fight the PLO," he said. "When Hamas members were arrested back then for possession of weapons, they used to tell the Israelis that the guns were supposed to be used only against Communists and secular Palestinians."
Dahlan ruled out the possibility that Fatah and Hamas would patch up their differences through dialogue. "I don't believe that this is the appropriate time to talk about the resumption of dialogue with Hamas," he said.
"President Abbas does not support talking to these murderers. Besides, Hamas is continuing to hold 120 Fatah members who were kidnapped in the past few weeks. We will resort to whatever means necessary to prevent Hamas from perpetrating similar crimes in the West Bank."
Also on Wednesday, Abbas fired Gen. Musbah al-Buhaisi, commander of the Force 17 "Presidential Guard" in the southern Gaza Strip, for surrendering to Hamas.
Abbas's office said the decision was taken following recommendations by the special commission of inquiry that was established last week to look into the reasons behind Fatah's defeat. It said Buhaisi was the highest-ranking security official to be dismissed since the Hamas takeover.
Buhaisi and many other top security officers fled to Ramallah when Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip two weeks ago.