Gaza Fatah appeals to Abbas for help

Members plead with PA president to work towards ending Hamas's "campaign of abduction and terror."

Haniyeh rally 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Haniyeh rally 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Fatah members in the Gaza Strip appealed to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas over the weekend to work toward ending Hamas's "campaign of abduction, intimidation and terror" against them. In a letter to Abbas on the first anniversary of Hamas's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip, the Fatah members complained that the Islamic movement was continuing to target them despite the PA president's recent initiative to end the dispute between the two parties. "We urge you to move quickly to end the criminal and terrorist actions of the Hamas militias against the sons of Fatah," the Fatah representatives wrote. "These militias are continuing to kidnap and torture our members in the Gaza Strip despite your initiative." The letter pointed out that scores of Fatah activists in the Gaza Strip had been summoned for questioning by Hamas security forces over the past few weeks, including top Fatah officials Issam Najjar, Abdel Rahim Najjar and Abdel Rauf Abdeen. "Do these black [Hamas] militias have the right to do whatever they want to Fatah while you are sitting in the West Bank doing nothing?" the Fatah activists asked. "Are you aware of the fact that the Hamas militias have even banned people from sitting in public places and are beating them? Why are you sitting in the West Bank doing nothing? Are you waiting until Hamas kills all of us?" The Fatah members urged Abbas to "completely wipe out" Hamas in the West Bank before it's too late, warning that otherwise he and his followers would be overthrown by the movement. The letter also complained that the Fatah-controlled media had stopped reporting about Hamas's practices against Fatah members in the Gaza Strip in an apparent attempt to avoid escalating tensions between the two sides. "Why has Palestine TV stopped reporting about the abduction of Fatah members in the Gaza Strip?" it asked. "Why are you sitting on the side while those who fought for you are being targeted by these militias?" Fatah activists claimed that Hamas banned families of slain Fatah members from visiting cemeteries on Saturday. They said that dozens of Hamas policemen sealed off the main cemetery in Khan Yunis. Hamas also banned Fatah supporters and relatives of Fatah men who were killed in the fighting with Hamas from marching in the streets or holding public rallies to protest against the Islamic movement's "coup," they said. The families of some 450 Palestinians who were killed in the Hamas-Fatah fighting on Saturday called on Abbas to work toward bringing the "murderous" Hamas militias to trial for their role in the "atrocities." They said that some of the victims, especially those belonging to the Fatah-dominated security forces, were killed in cold blood after being taken prisoners by Hamas. Fatah legislator Majed Abu Shamaleh claimed that the Hamas "coup" was the result of an Israeli-American plot. He also blamed the PA for failing to thwart the alleged scheme. He said that the Israelis and Americans were to blame for the deterioration in Hamas-Fatah relations because of their insistence on holding free and democratic elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the death of Yasser Arafat. He added that the pressure to hold the elections in January 2006 came despite the fact that Fatah was then very weak and unprepared for the vote. Hamas announced that Abbas's security forces in the West Bank were holding dozens of its supporters in detention without trial. The movement estimated that more than 1,500 Hamas supporters had been arrested in the past year by the Fatah security forces in the West Bank. The family of Ammar al-Masri, head of a Hamas-affiliated sports club in Nablus, claimed over the weekend that he had been tortured by the Fatah security forces in the city. Masri was arrested 40 days ago by the PA's Preventive Security Service in the city. His wife, Khuloud, who is the deputy mayor of Nablus, said her husband's health had deteriorated as a result of the torture. She appealed to Abbas and human rights organizations to intervene to secure the immediate release of her husband, who has not been formally charged.