Fatah says Islamist group planning to kill Abbas, Hamas accuses rival of West Bank "massacre."
By JPOST.COM STAFF, KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Following Fatah reports that Hamas was planning attacks against its leaders, and specifically PA President Mahmoud Abbas [Abu Mazen], Hamas spokesman Ribhi Rantisi denied the claim in an interview with Army Radio on Thursday morning.
"Hamas has no intention of harming Fatah leaders and especially not Abu Mazen," Rantisi said, claiming that in fact, the opposite was true.
"It is Fatah that is carrying out a massacre of Hamas people in the West Bank. Look at what happened in Kalkilya," he said. "In my opinion," he went on, "there has to be a response to Fatah's actions in the West Bank. There must be arrests in Gaza."
Rantisi said that Hamas had asked Fatah for the immediate release of detainees "a thousand times."
Fatah official Khadoura Fares rebutted Rantisi's denial.
"From what has come up in investigations, Hamas is ready to hurt Abu Mazen. I cannot say 100% that this is true. But according to security sources, it is," he said. "I can say that there is willingness, whether it is reported daily in the media or demonstrated in the daily arrests on both sides. The willingness is there."
Fares went on to say that "we in Fatah are against arrests made against people just because they belong to Hamas. But there are people who think this way, and I believe that they will be isolated in Palestinian society. The only option is dialogue. I know many important people in Hamas who look for dialogue. I have called for the release of Hamas detainees in the West Bank. These actions serve no purpose...they just lead to more divisions."
Rantisi said in response: "We want to have reconciliation. We want to sit down and talk. But there are people in Abbas' government who torpedo any efforts for unity."
Abbas said Wednesday that the PA had "verified information" that Hamas had been planning terrorist attacks against senior PA officials.
"We are following the situation very closely and when the appropriate time comes we will produce the evidence to the media," he added. "We have discovered tons of explosives and weapons cashes in residential neighborhoods in the West Bank."
Also Wednesday, a Fatah official said that Hamas was deliberately targeting senior officials of the faction in the Gaza Strip, including former ministers, members of Fatah's "revolutionary council," former Fatah legislators and former commanders of the Palestinian Authority security forces.
He said that in the past 24 hours, Hamas had kidnapped 156 Fatah members in the Gaza Strip, and that another 210 Fatah members had been in Hamas prisons for months and years.
A human rights group reported that Hamas security forces had arrested 515 Fatah supporters in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the week and called on the movement's leadership to release all of them.
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