Fatah: Hamas 'gangs' banned our men from entering Gaza

Abbas advisors say they were turned back at checkpoint while on way into Gaza for meeting on implementation of reconciliation agreement.

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January 8, 2012 02:49
2 minute read.
Erez Crossing in northern Gaza

Erez Crossing 311 (R). (photo credit: Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

 
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Four senior Fatah officials complained over the weekend that Hamas authorities banned them from entering the Gaza Strip, forcing them to return to the West Bank.

The four men – Ismail Jaber and Rouhi Fattouh, top advisers to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and Fatah central committee members Sakher Bsaisso and Muhammad Madani – said they were stopped by Hamas policemen at the Gaza side of the Erez checkpoint on Friday.

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The officials said they wanted to visit the Gaza Strip for talks with Hamas officials on ways of implementing the Egyptian-brokered reconciliation agreement that was reached between the two sides in Cairo in May.

They said that although they had coordinated their visit to the Gaza Strip in advance with the Hamas government, they were forced to wait for more than 45 minutes at the checkpoint while Hamas policemen checked their documents.

“In the end, they prevented us from entering the Gaza Strip,” said Jaber, a former commander of the PA’s National Security Force in the West Bank. “The Hamas people are behaving like gangs and not as people who want reconciliation [with Fatah].”

Bsaisso, who headed the delegation, denounced the behavior of the Hamas policemen as a “crime.” He denied Hamas claims that he had insulted policemen at the checkpoint.

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Bsaisso said that he and his friends were effectively banned from entering the Strip. “For us, the Gaza Strip is our homes and people,” he said.

“The Gaza Strip does not belong to [Hamas leaders] Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud Zahar. Hamas’s actions show that there are some in this movement who are trying to thwart efforts to achieve reconciliation with Fatah.”

Azzam al-Ahmed, the head of the Fatah delegation to the reconciliation talks, strongly condemned Hamas’s “extortion and attempts to preserve divisions among the Palestinians.”

The Hamas government denied that the four Fatah officials had been banned from entering the Gaza Strip. A spokesman for the government in Gaza City said that the four men decided to return to the West Bank after refusing to wait while their documents were being checked.

The Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry accused Bsaisso of insulting the policemen at the checkpoint and cursing God – an offense that is punishable by law.

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