Hamas claimed on Monday that the Palestinian Authority security forces have banned its supporters from holding rallies in the West Bank to mark the 35th anniversary of the founding of the Islamist group.
The ban coincides with an ongoing security crackdown on Hamas supporters and members by the PA security forces.
The PA security services have in the past banned Hamas from holding rallies in the West Bank to celebrate its 35th anniversary.
Hamas, established in 1987, is expected to hold a major rally in the Gaza Strip later this week to mark its birthday.
“Hamas strongly condemns the security forces of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank for banning the anniversary celebrations,” read a statement issued by Hamas. “The desperate attempts by the Palestinian Authority to prevent the activities of the [Hamas] will not succeed in removing the idea of resistance from the hearts of our people.”
Interrogation of Hamas supporters in the West Bank
Hamas also denounced the PA security services for arresting and summoning for interrogation supporters of the group in the West Bank.
The group called on the PA to stop its clampdown and release all the Hamas supporters who were detained by the Palestinian security forces over the past few weeks. Hamas also called on the PA to halt security coordination with the Israeli security forces, arguing that this was being done “at the expense of our people and their national principles.”
Senior Hamas official Hussam Badran revealed that the PA security forces were targeting not only Hamas supporters, but members of other Palestinian groups and “anyone who is active with the resistance against the occupation.”
“Political arrests have been going on since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority,” Badran said. “These days, however, there is a major offensive against our people [in the West Bank].”
A "stab in the back of Palestinian national unity"
The Hamas official described the PA security crackdown as a “stab in the back of the Palestinian national unity,” reference to recurring failed attempts to end the dispute between the ruling Fatah faction headed by Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas.
The allegations come two months after Hamas and Fatah signed an agreement in Algiers to resolve the dispute. Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed said then that the agreement “will be implemented and will not remain ink on paper.” The agreement was one of many signed between the two rival parties over the past 16 years, none of which was ever implemented.
A committee representing families of detainees held in PA prisons said that at least 11 Palestinians were taken into custody by the Palestinian security forces in the past 48 hours. Another 18 Palestinians were summoned for interrogation, the committee said.
Most of those detained or summoned for interrogation are known as Hamas supporters, according to Palestinian sources. The sources said that the Hamas supporters were warned by the Palestinian security forces against attempting to hold any public rallies to mark the Hamas anniversary.
Among those who received a warning: Sheikh Mohammed Nazzal, a resident of Kalkilya, Ubay Hamadneh of Nablus, Amer Halaykeh of Hebron and Hassan Abu al-Rub of Jenin.
According to the Palestinian Lawyers for Justice human rights group, the PA security forces have arrested or summoned for interrogation more than 500 Palestinian activists since the beginning of the year. The group called for ending the crackdown, noting that the activists were targeted because of their political affiliation.