Hamas supporters still targeted by Fatah

Despite agreement in Cairo by Abbas and Mashaal to release political detainees, Hamas says PA arresting its supporters.

Palestinian Authority police 311 (R) (photo credit: Mohamad Torokman / Reuters)
Palestinian Authority police 311 (R)
(photo credit: Mohamad Torokman / Reuters)
One week after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal announced they had agreed to “open a new page” in their relations, Hamas and Fatah complained Wednesday that their supporters were still being targeted in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Following the Cairo summit between Abbas and Mashaal, representatives of the two rival parties said that the two men agreed to release all “political detainees” held by the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
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Hamas officials revealed that the PA security forces have arrested or summoned for interrogation 23 supporters of the Islamist movement in the past few days in violation of the understandings reached between Abbas and Mashaal. Half of the detainees were rounded up in the past 48 hours, the officials said.
On Thursday, families and relatives of scores of detainees held in PA prisons will stage a sit-in strike in Hebron to demand the release of their sons.
Hamas also accused the PA government of firing a number of civil servants for allegedly being affiliated with the movement.
Most of the arrests in the West Bank were carried out by the PA’s General Intelligence Service and Preventive Security Force.
In Ramallah, PA security forces arrested Omar Awwad, 55, and four of his sons, sources close to Hamas said. They said that they were arrested as a means of pressure to force a fifth son, Abdel Rahman, to hand himself in to PA security forces. Rahman is wanted for membership in Hamas.
In Nablus, PA security forces summoned for interrogation eight Hamas supporters who were recently released from Israeli prison, the sources said.
In Tulkarm, Bara’a Qarawi, the son of a Hamas legislator, said he would not report for interrogation after being served with a summons earlier this week.
Two university students who also received summons’s for interrogation by PA security forces said they would not comply, the sources added.
A Hamas official said that at least 93 supporters and members of the movement were being held in detention in various PA prisons. He said that 40 of the detainees were from Hebron and 20 from Nablus.
Aziz Dweik, a senior Hamas official in the West Bank, warned that the continued crackdown on Hamas supporters would damage the understandings between Abbas and Mashaal.
He said that Hamas and Fatah have exchanged lists with names of detainees who would be released in accordance with the understandings, “but nothing has been done so far.”
Dweik said that the whole reconciliation process between Hamas and Fatah would collapse if the arrests continued.
Fatah, for its part, accused Hamas security services of arresting and harassing Fatah supporters in the Gaza Strip.
On Wednesday, Abdullah Nofal and Muhammad Nawajha, two Fatah-affiliated university students, were picked up by Hamas security officers, Fatah activists said.
The activists said that dozens of Fatah supporters have been summoned for interrogation and were being banned from leaving the Gaza Strip.
Since the beginning of the week, Hamas has also arrested four Palestinian journalists for allegedly being affiliated with Fatah. The four are Salah Abu Salah, Mahmoud Abu Riyaleh, Hani al-Agha and Ziad Awad.
A fifth journalist, Manal Khamis, has been repeatedly summoned for interrogation by Hamas security officers, who also confiscated computers and documents belonging to the journalists.