Palestinian Hamas militants attend the funeral of their comrades who were killed in an explosion, in the central Gaza Strip May 6, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)
A senior Fatah official in the Gaza Strip is reported to be in serious condition after being attacked by unidentified gunmen.
Atef Abu Seif, the Fatah spokesman in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, was reportedly kidnapped near his home in Bet Lahia on Monday afternoon, Fatah officials said. According to the officials, the gunmen who kidnapped Abu Seif broke his arms and legs.
It was not clear who was behind the attack on the Fatah official. However, Fatah officials accused Hamas of being behind the assault.
The incident came amid mounting tensions between Hamas and Fatah, especially in wake of recent protests against the high cost of living and taxes in the Gaza Strip. The protests are being held under the banner “We Want to Live!”
Hamas has accused Fatah of inciting Palestinians to take to the streets as part of a “conspiracy” to overthrow the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip. A Hamas official further said that Fatah and its supporters have been trying to hijack the protests as part of a plan to stage a coup against the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip.
Last week, another senior Fatah official in the Gaza Strip – Ahmed Hillis – said that he survived an assassination attempt when gunmen opened fire at his car in the center of the Gaza Strip.
In a statement, Fatah strongly condemned the assault on Abu Seif and Hamas’s repressive measures against the protesters against economic hardship. The Hamas crackdown is an assault on the legitimate Palestinian leadership and the PLO, the statement said, accusing Hamas policemen of being behind the “assassination attempt” targeting the Fatah spokesman.
Ma’moun Sweidan – an adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas – also held Hamas responsible for the assault. Hamas, he charged, is “tampering with the social fabric in the Gaza Strip and the future of national unity.”
The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights also issued a statement strongly denouncing the assault on the senior Fatah official, dubbing it a “dangerous escalation.” The group called on Hamas to halt its human rights violations, including arrests and beatings of demonstrators and incitement against journalists and human rights activists.
Meanwhile, Hamas accused the PA security forces on Monday of devising a scheme – together with international parties – to instigate unrest in the Gaza Strip. According to Hamas, the scheme – which is being orchestrated by senior Fatah officials – is being carried out on social media and is also aimed at driving a wedge between Hamas and other Gaza-based Palestinian factions.
The protests against the poor economic situation in the Gaza Strip – which began last week – are seen as a sign of growing discontent with Hamas. Hamas security forces have arrested hundreds of Palestinians who participated in the protests, including several Palestinian journalists who were released after being warned not to cover the anti-Hamas demonstrations.
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