Hamas on Sunday accused Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad of financial corruption, dubbing him and his ministers US agents and thieves. Hamas had so far avoided attacking the widely respected Fayad, who ran in the January 2006 parliamentary election as an independent. Fayad, for his part, has avoided taking sides in the power struggle between Fatah and Hamas. Meanwhile, some 200 Palestinian policemen were deployed along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt for the first time since Hamas took full control over the area.
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Fatah officials told The Jerusalem Post that the policemen were members of Hamas and that they were deployed along the border following a secret agreement between Hamas and the Egyptian government.
"These are not our policemen," said a senior Fatah official. "They are all members of Hamas's Executive Force and armed wing, Izzadin Kassam.
They simply changed their clothes and are now wearing uniforms of the Palestinian National Security Force. Many of them also shaved their beards so that they would not be identified as Hamas members."
The official said most of the former Fatah-affiliated policemen in the Gaza Strip were refusing to serve under Hamas. He said PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas had instructed his loyalists in the security forces to stay at home after the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denied the claims, insisting that all the policemen who were now guarding the border with Egypt were members of the PA National Security Force.
"They reported to work on the instructions of [Hamas] Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh," he said. "Many of the policemen and security officers have actually returned to work in the Gaza Strip."
Abu Zuhri also denied that the deployment of the policemen was part of a deal between Hamas and Egypt.
"This is a natural move," he said. "Their task is to enforce law and order along the border, as they have done in the past."
The attack on Fayad came in response to statements made over the weekend by PA Sports and Youth Minister Ashraf Ajrami, to the effect that the Hamas government had stolen public funds.
"Salaam Fayad is the head of the thieves," said Yahya Musa, a prominent member of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council. "He's suspected of embezzling $36 million from the Agricultural Development Company. He also used to channel public funds to Fatah."
Musa condemned Fayad and his ministers for allegedly agreeing to serve the interests of the US in the region.
"Fayad and his ministers agreed to become cheap tools in the hands of the US," he said. "They are doing what US agents in Iraq and Afghanistan used to do - feeding the US with lies so it would invade their countries."
Musa also launched a scathing attack on Abbas's initiative to deploy international troops in the Gaza Strip.
"Abbas and his friends want to return to the Gaza Strip at any price," he said. "They even don't care if they return on top of an American or Zionist tank. No force will be able to come to the Gaza Strip because it will become a military target."