Hamas, Fatah bicker following Gaza operation

Both sides competing over rebuilding effort; Fatah: Hamas stole UN aid; Hamas: Fatah helped Israeli op.

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January 20, 2009 23:03
2 minute read.
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Hamas and Fatah have been accusing each other of stealing humanitarian aid that was on its way to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. They are also competing as to which one of them would be in charge of rebuilding the destroyed infrastructure and houses. The mutual allegations came amid growing tensions between the two parties in the wake of Operation Cast Lead. Hamas spokesmen continue to maintain that Fatah leaders in the West Bank were in collusion with Israel during the war. The Hamas spokesmen have also accused Fatah "spies" in the Gaza Strip of helping Israel kill senior Hamas official Said Siam. Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip claimed that dozens of trucks loaded with food and medicine were being held on the Egyptian side of the border at the request of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The officials said that the humanitarian aid came from several Arab and Islamic countries about two weeks ago. They said that the Egyptian authorities initially tried to deliver the aid to the Palestinians, but were stopped by Abbas. "Abbas and Fatah are afraid that the aid would be used to strengthen the Hamas government," said a Hamas official. "That's why they are doing their best to prevent much of the aid from entering the Gaza Strip." Another Hamas official claimed that the aid had been diverted to the West Bank, where Fatah representatives have confiscated the medicine and food. He did not rule out the possibility that some Fatah leaders were planning to sell the food and medicine in the black market. The Hamas government said Tuesday that it has established a special fund to help the victims of the IDF operation and urged the international community not to give Abbas's authority any money. Hamas also said that it would not allow the PA to play any role in the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. It said that the money should be channeled directly to the victims and not to Abbas's aides in Ramallah. Fatah strongly denied the allegations and claimed that Hamas militiamen have been stealing the aid since the beginning of Israel's military operation. Fatah also warned donors against dealing with Hamas directly. A Fatah official said that on Monday night alone, Hamas gunmen intercepted 12 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid that had been donated by the Jordanian government to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. He said that the trucks were on their way to the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) when the gunmen belonging to the movement's armed wing, Izaddin al-Kassam, stopped them and confiscated their contents. The Jordanian authorities confirmed on Tuesday that Hamas gunmen had seized the trucks shortly after they entered the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom border crossing. Last week Fatah activists and eyewitnesses in the Gaza Strip claimed that Hamas had confiscated fuel and food that was en route to hospitals and schools housing thousands of Palestinian families. Meanwhile, the PA is studying a proposal to import thousands of caravans that would serve as temporary homes for Palestinian families whose houses were destroyed or damaged during the war. The proposal, which was submitted to the PA leadership by the Union of Palestinian Contractors in the Gaza Strip, is said to be worth between $8 million to $10m.

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