Hamas members planned to seize control of a Palestinian Authority security installation near Ramallah, Palestinian sources said Tuesday.
The claim coincided with the 15th anniversary of Hamas’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the collapse of the PA and its security forces there.
According to the sources, PA security forces recently discovered a weapons cache and tunnel near the headquarters of a PA security installation in the town of Beitunya, west of Ramallah.
At least 19 Hamas members were arrested in connection with the weapons and the tunnel.
The Hamas men are suspected of planning to infiltrate and seize control of the security installation, which belongs to the PA’s Preventive Security Service, the sources said.
The weapons were discovered following an explosion in a carpentry workshop in the town.
During the coup in the Gaza Strip in 2007, Hamas militiamen used a tunnel to detonate explosive devices underneath the headquarters of the Preventive Security Service in Khan Yunis. Several security officers were killed in the massive explosion.
More than 700 Palestinians were killed during the clashes that erupted in the Gaza Strip between Hamas and Fatah militants and activists.
“In its crimes against our people in the Gaza Strip, Hamas used heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and bombs and killed hundreds under brutal torture,” the PA’s official news agency Wafa reported. “Hamas killed entire families after besieging their homes and raining missiles on them, as if they were fighting a people other than their own. A large number of Fatah members and security officers were martyred, and their headquarters and homes were burned and demolished over their heads and the heads of their families.”
A senior PA security official refused to comment on the claim regarding the alleged Hamas scheme to attack a security installation in Beitunya.
“In its crimes against our people in the Gaza Strip, Hamas used heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and bombs, and killed hundreds under brutal torture.”PA’s official news agency Wafa
Hamas is “proceeding with its attempts and conspiracies to control the West Bank,” Fatah said in a statement marking the anniversary of the Hamas coup.
It accused Hamas of preparing to carry out “sabotage attacks” in the West Bank to undermine the PA and its security forces.
Citing reports concerning the alleged Hamas plot near Ramallah, Fatah said the discovery of the weapons and tunnel was a clear example of the terrorist group’s ongoing efforts to spread chaos and anarchy in the West Bank.
Since the 2007 coup, the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been divided into two separate entities.
The split was a Palestinian “gift” to Israel, said Ayman al-Raqab, a senior Fatah official.
“The division was the worst event to happen in Palestine,” he said. “Israel stands to benefit from the consolidation of the division.”
At least seven attempts by Arab countries to end the rivalry between Hamas and Fatah have failed. Saudi Arabia, Syria, Qatar, Yemen, Algeria and Egypt have tried to achieve national reconciliation between the rival parties.
Hamas’s “black coup” remains an obstacle to the “continuation of the Palestinian struggle to end the occupation,” senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed said. Israel and other regional and international parties have since been “encouraging” the division among the Palestinians, he said.
“Hamas is not interested in ending this black chapter in the history of our people,” Ahmed said.