Erez Crossing 311 (R).
(photo credit: Mohammed Salem/Reuters)
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
RELATED:'Hamas-Fatah unity would harm diplomatic process'Hamas bans Fatah celebrations'Peace process must involve Hamas as a player'
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.
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
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.
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
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
The Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry accused Bsaisso of
insulting the policemen at the checkpoint and cursing God – an offense that is
punishable by law.