Hamas blasts PA for revoking charities' licenses

Accuses Abbas of conspiring with Israel, US; Islamic institutions suspected of aiding Hamas.

Abbas Fayad 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Abbas Fayad 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Palestinian Authority's decision to revoke the licenses of more than 100 Islamic charities and associations has drawn strong condemnations from Hamas, whose representatives on Wednesday accused PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of "conspiring" against the Palestinians together with Israel and the US. The institutions were suspected of channeling funds to Hamas, a senior PA official in Ramallah has told The Jerusalem Post. "The money is going to support Hamas in its war against the Palestinian Authority and Fatah," he said. "We are now considering additional measures against more Hamas-run institutions that have been operating in the West Bank under the cover of charities." Hamas officials warned that the decision, which was announced by the government of Prime Minister Salaam Fayad earlier this week, would deprive tens of thousands of Palestinian families of financial and humanitarian aid. The decision will result in the closure of some 103 institutions in the West Bank that employ hundreds of workers and support tens of thousands of families, they said. Meanwhile, sources close to Hamas reported that Abbas's security forces have arrested more than 500 Hamas supporters and figures in the West Bank in the past two months. "Abbas is resorting to a scorched-earth policy in dealing with Hamas," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri in response to the latest decision, which, according to PA officials, is aimed at combating money-laundering by the Islamist movement. He said the institutions were responsible for providing unconditional financial and humanitarian aid to needy Palestinians, including the families of "martyrs," prisoners and those wounded in clashes with the IDF. Another Hamas official warned that the decision would trigger an "intifada" against Abbas and his government in the West Bank. "Abbas, on the instructions of the Israelis and Americans, is participating in the economic sanctions imposed on our people," he said. "Abbas wants the entire Palestinian people to be dependent on financial aid from the West. Our people will foil the attempt to close down the institutions." According to the Hamas official, the Fayad government last week froze the bank accounts of the Salah Association, which is one of the largest charitable organizations in the Gaza Strip. "The decision was taken on instructions from the Americans, who claimed that the Salah Association belonged to Hamas," he said. "In fact, this is one of the most successful charities in the Gaza Strip. The decision has affected thousands of impoverished families." Another one of the biggest organizations in the Gaza Strip, the Islamic Charity Association, was forced to withdraw all its deposits from Palestinian banks for fear that the Fayad government would seize them.