'Hamas coup was coordinated with Iran'

PA intel chief: Teheran funded, trained gunmen; implies Syrian involvement.

Hamas patrol Gaza 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Hamas patrol Gaza 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
The Palestinian Authority intelligence chief on Sunday accused Iran of close involvement in Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza, saying Teheran funded the group and trained hundreds of their gunmen. The intelligence chief, Tawfiq Tirawi, said the battle for Gaza earlier this month was carefully orchestrated. "It was a joint program with Iran," he said. In implied criticism of Syria, he noted that Hamas' leadership is based there. He said that a month before the battle for Gaza began, the Syrian-based leaders of Hamas met with the heads of the Hamas military wing in an undisclosed Arab capital. "In this meeting, they discussed all the details of the operation." Tirawi told a news conference. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri dismissed the allegations of Hamas-Iran cooperation as "baseless fabrication," and denied Hamas fighters had been trained in Iran. On Saturday, Hamas hardliner Mahmoud Zahar was quoted as telling a German news magazine that he had personally carried $42 million in cash from Iran across the Gaza-Egypt border. Tirawi warned that Hamas militants are hoarding weapons in the West Bank and might try to target Palestinian government installations there. The West Bank is a stronghold of the rival Fatah movement of moderate Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhari said Sunday that the group was hurt by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's statement made the previous day during which he denounced Hamas's takeover of the Gaza Strip. Mubarak described Hamas's takeover of Gaza as a "coup" and warned that group's conflict with the moderate Fatah movement could lead to the creation of two Palestinian entities. Abu Zuhari told BBC radio that the Egyptian president supports only one side on account of the other side. "Hamas was elected by law and agreed to establish a unity government with Fatah, but the one responsible for dissolving it is Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazzen, and not Hamas." He said.