(photo credit: AP)
The Palestinian Authority has ordered its security forces to destroy or hide all files containing information on Hamas and its members, the movement claimed on Sunday.
Hamas also accused the PA security forces of transferring weapons from their storehouses to Fatah militiamen.
|PLC ELECTIONS AFTERMATH|
Hamas officials in Gaza City claimed that Interior Minister Nasser Youssef, who held an emergency meeting with commanders of the PA security forces on Sunday, instructed them to take a series of measures in the wake of Hamas's victory in last week's parliamentary election.
The measures include destroying and hiding files containing information that had been gathered by the interrogation of hundreds of Hamas detainees over the past 12 years, the officials said, adding that the PA security forces were emptying their storehouses of automatic rifles and handing them over to Fatah groups.
PA security forces strongly denied the Hamas allegations, saying no such instructions had been issued.
"These claims are completely untrue and are in the context of attempts to defame the security establishment and its personnel," said Interior Ministry spokesman Tawkif Abu Khoussa. He described those behind the charges as "a small group of thugs who have been blinded by hatred."
The latest allegations are an indication of the growing tensions between Hamas and Fatah in the aftermath of the parliamentary vote.
The PA security forces consist solely of Fatah members who have made it clear in the past few days that they would not take orders from a Hamas-run cabinet.
Youssef, who is formally in charge of security, announced on Sunday that he would report only to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, whom he described as the commander-in-chief of the security forces. The announcement is seen as a warning to Hamas against trying to take control of the PA security forces.
Some of the security commanders in the West Bank and Gaza Strip told Abbas over the weekend that they would not leave their posts even if the new Hamas cabinet ordered them to do so.
"The Palestinian security forces are the property of all the people," Youssef said. "We welcome any faction that wants to join the security forces according to our conditions and laws. We won't allow anyone to harm the security forces and we will report only to President Abbas, who is the commander-in-chief."
Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri said his movement was waiting to hear from Abbas about the formation of a new cabinet. Abbas was scheduled to arrive in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, but the visit was delayed because of violent protests by disgruntled Fatah supporters.
"We are in touch with Abbas and he's expected to arrive in the Gaza Strip soon," Masri said. "We don't know why he called off his planned visit. Hamas wants to form a new cabinet as soon as possible."
Another Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, called on the European Union and the US to respect the choice of the Palestinians, "who elected their representatives through a democratic process that was observed by international monitors."
Abu Zuhri condemned as "blackmail" threats by the international community to cut off financial aid to the Palestinians following Hamas's landslide victory.
"They want to punish the Palestinians because they chose their representatives in democratic elections," he pointed out. "Do foreign governments want to continue spending their taxpayers' money on corrupt and dictatorial regimes?"
He said that despite the threats, Hamas wanted to embark on a policy of openness toward the West. He also said that Hamas was not worried by Israeli threats to restrict the movement of Hamas leaders and representatives.