The hand of a Palestinian inmate is seen in a prison in the West Bank city of Nablus February 11, 2008. .
(photo credit: ELIANA APONTE/REUTERS)
The West Bank-based Palestinian Fatah faction on Saturday accused Hamas of torturing Fatah members in the Gaza Strip.
Fatah officials said at least 100 of their members were detained by Hamas in the past week. The crackdown, according to the officials, came in response to demonstrations organized by Fatah to express support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The pro-Abbas demonstrations came after thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in the Gaza Strip to demand the ouster of the PA president.
Fatah claims that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and supporters of deposed Fatah official Mohamed Dahlan, a prominent critic of Abbas, are all behind the demonstrations against the PA president in the Gaza Strip.
Osama Qawassmeh, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, accused Hamas of “kidnapping and brutally torturing Fatah members in a way that no Palestinian can imagine.”
Qawassmeh said that Fatah activists who were detained by Hamas were physically and verbally assaulted and held in the cold. The detainees, he added, “were thrown into cold and dark cells, together with criminals and spies.” The torture included subjecting the detainees to “shabah” - the painful binding of the hands and feet to a chair, he said.
One of the Fatah detainees, Mohammed Labbad, was transferred last week to the Kamal Adwan Hospital after being brutally tortured by Hamas, a Fatah source in the Gaza Strip said. The source said that Labbad was arrested on January 8 in the Sabra neighborhood of Gaza City and has since been subjected to various forms of torture.
In another incident, Fatah activist Raed Abu al-Hassin was beaten and had his two legs broken by Hamas security officers, the source said. Hassin was taken into custody by Hamas after he participated in a pro-Abbas demonstration in the Gaza Strip last week, the source added. He is the brother of Hatem Abu al-Hassin, secretary-general of Fatah in the northern Gaza Strip.
Hassan al-Wali, a Fatah activist from the Gaza Strip, told the Ramallah-based Wattan news website that he was arrested by Hamas after he posted an article on his Facebook calling for the removal of Hamas from power. He too complained that he had been severely tortured during his two-day incarceration.
A spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Ministry of the Interior, which is responsible for the security forces in the Gaza Strip, denied the charges, dubbing them a “fantasy.” The spokesman, Iyad al-Bazm, said that Fatah’s accusations were unrelated to what is happening on the ground. He also accused Fatah of distorting the facts and incitement.
The latest tensions between Hamas and Fatah erupted a series of demonstrations in the Gaza Strip and an online campaign calling for the ouster of Abbas, especially because of the sanctions he imposed on the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave. Fatah has responded with its own campaign in support of Abbas under the banners: “We Chose You” and “You Represent Me.” In the context of the Fatah campaign, thousands of Palestinians have staged demonstrations in the several West Bank cities to voice their support for Abbas and condemn Hamas’s “incitement” against him.
Mahmoud Habbash, Abbas’s religious affairs adviser, on Friday launched a scathing attack on Hamas and the Palestinians calling for the ouster of the PA president and accused them of fomenting strife among Palestinians.
Habbash, who was speaking in a sermon during Friday prayers in Ramallah, denounced the anti-Abbas protesters as mercenaries and cited a saying (hadith) of prophet Mohammed calling for the killing of anyone who divides Muslims.
Habbash’s remarks drew sharp criticism from Hamas and several Palestinians who called for dismissing him from his job and holding him accountable for incitement.
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