PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas accused Gaza's Hamas rulers of allowing al-Qaida to infiltrate the coastal strip, and Hamas militants on Tuesday hotly denied the allegation.
In an interview Monday with Italy's RAI TV, Abbas charged that "thanks to the support of Hamas, al-Qaida is entering Gaza." Abbas, who met with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi on Tuesday, offered no evidence to back up his allegations.
Abbas met Tuesday with Prodi and renewed a request to deploy an international force in Gaza, widely seen as a nonstarter because of the many complications of sending forces to such a volatile area. In a joint news conference, Prodi suggested the time was not ripe for such a deployment.
Deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas rejected international forces. "We consider any international presence in Gaza a type of external aggression against the Palestinian people and the Palestinian issue and unwanted interference in internal Palestinian affairs.