Hamas gunmen CHECK CAPTION 248.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
A Fatah official in Ramallah on Sunday launched a scathing attack on Hamas and described its leaders as "criminals."
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on condition of anonymity, the Fatah official denounced Hamas as a "black and bloody militia" that was responsible for the "catastrophe" in the Gaza Strip.
The official warned that failure to crush Hamas completely would undermine Fatah and pave the way for the collapse of moderate Arab regimes.
He said that Hamas was fighting on behalf of Iran and Syria - the only two countries that have been supplying the movement with weapons and money.
"The Iranians and Syrians are using Hamas to undermine the Palestinian Authority and other moderate Arab governments," the Fatah official told the Post. "Victory for Hamas in this war would mean victory for Iran, Syria and Hizbullah. This is something we need to prevent."
The official expressed hope that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip would revolt against Hamas when the IDF operation ended. He also expressed hope that Hamas leaders Mahmoud Zahar and Ismail Haniyeh would be tried before a Palestinian court as "war criminals." The Hamas leaders, he charged, were responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent Palestinians. "Ever since they came to power, they brought death and destruction to our people."
The official would neither confirm nor deny a report according to which Egypt was training Fatah activists to regain control over the Gaza Strip. According to the report, some 300 Fatah militiamen who had fled to Egypt during the violent Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007 were being trained by Egyptian security experts.
Ahmed Abdel Rahman, the official Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, mocked statements made by Syrian-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to the effect that Israel's military operation in the Gaza Strip had failed.
He said that Mashaal's remarks did not reflect the reality on the ground. "Khaled Mashaal was talking [on Al-Jazeera] as if the Hamas tanks were surrounding Tel Aviv," he said. "It's obvious that Mashaal has never been to the Gaza Strip and doesn't know what he's talking about."
Abdel Rahman, who is also a senior adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said that Mashaal and the Hamas leadership were mistaken to think that the Gaza Strip belonged to their movement. "The Gaza Strip belongs to the Palestinian people," he said. "The Gaza Strip is part of Palestine and not a Hamas-owned estate."
In a separate development, a leaflet distributed by Fatah in Ramallah accused Hamas of targeting dozens of Fatah members in the Gaza Strip. It said many Fatah activists and supporters have been executed by Hamas militiamen in the past two weeks.
The leaflet said that the Hamas government had placed hundreds of Fatah members under house arrest out of fear that they would exploit the IDF operation to stage a coup against Hamas.
In addition, the leaflet said, Hamas militiamen have shot many Fatah members in the knees to make sure that they won't be able to participate in any anti-Hamas activities. The leaflet called on Abbas to fire the Fatah leadership in the Gaza Strip for allegedly failing to defend its members against Hamas.