Hamas arrests opposition doctor

Fatah supporter and son held in custody; Hamas denies political motivation.

Hamas Rally Sun 298 88 (photo credit: AP)
Hamas Rally Sun 298 88
(photo credit: AP)
Hamas security forces on Thursday arrested an opposition doctor fired after he reported that supplies at the Gaza Strip's largest hospital have been scarce since the extremist group took over Gaza. Militiamen took Dr. Jomma Saka and his 18-year-old son into custody around 2 a.m. and transferred them to an unknown destination, his wife, Hanan, said. Hamas denied the arrest was politically motivated. Saka is loyal to the Fatah movement of Palestinian Auhtority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas's nemesis, and last week he held a news conference where he claimed that medical equipment at Shifa Hospital was in short supply as a result of border closures following Hamas' takeover of Gaza two months ago. The Health Ministry, controlled by Hamas, accused Saka of lying, then fired him on grounds of corruption, accusing him among other things of stealing furniture from the hospital. Saka denied Hamas's allegations, and had been organizing a strike at Shifa later Thursday meant to pressure Hamas to reinstate him as head of the hospital's public relations department. "The decision to send Dr. Saka for investigations stemmed from many reasons, including giving false information that has intimidated the public," Dr. Bassem Naim, the health minister in the Hamas government in Gaza, said in a statement. "It has nothing to do with his political affiliation." Saka's dismissal and arrest was the latest case of friction between Hamas and rivals. Last week, two Palestinians were killed when Hamas gunmen clashed with Islamic Jihad operatives outside a Gaza City mosque.