(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian Authority security forces over the weekend prevented Hamas representatives from holding a rally in the suburbs of Jerusalem to honor Palestinian prisoners released from Israeli jails.
The ceremony was to be held at the A-Nujjoum Hall in A-Ram, north of Jerusalem.
The village is under the civilian control of the PA, but security there is in the hands of Israel.
Hundreds of Palestinians had been invited to the rally, a Hamas legislator told The Jerusalem Post
. The Hamas-affiliated Change and Reform parliamentary list, which had planned the event, was forced to cancel it following threats from Fatah gunmen and PA policemen in civilian clothes, he said.
“Dozens of them surrounded the hall where the rally was supposed to be held and threatened the owner against allowing it to take place,” the legislator said. “We decided to cancel the rally out of concern for the safety of those attending.”
One of the organizers said it was “absurd” that the PA policemen and Fatah gunmen banned an event that was meant to honor former prisoners belonging to Fatah.
“This was an event for prisoners belonging to various Palestinian factions, and not only Hamas,” he told the Post
. “Many of the former prisoners were actually members of Fatah.”
He added that the organizers were also surprised to see Fatah gunmen and PA policemen in an area where Israel does not allow them to operate.
The ban of the Hamas-sponsored rally is seen as part of the PA’s massive crackdown on the Islamist movement in the West Bank. Hundreds of Hamas members and supporters are being held in PA prisons, many of them without trial.
Hamas said over the weekend that despite the clampdown, it was still interested in achieving “reconciliation” with Fatah.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh revealed that a high-level Fatah
delegation was scheduled to visit the Gaza Strip soon for talks on ways
of ending the crisis.
He said that ending the power struggle between the two groups would be
possible only after the PA released all Hamas-affiliated detainees from
its prisons in the West Bank. Haniyeh said that his government was also
keen on reaching an agreement with the PA to reopen the Rafah border
crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.
The terminal has been closed since Hamas seized control of the Gaza
Strip in June 2007 and kicked out Fatah policemen who were stationed on
the border, prompting the Egyptian authorities to shut it down.