Haniyeh supports independent body to supervise Gaza aid

PA cracks down on Hamas-affiliated journalists in West Bank.

Haniyeh nice 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Haniyeh nice 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh announced on Tuesday that his government supported the idea of establishing an independent body that would supervise reconstruction work in the Gaza Strip with the help of the international community. Haniyeh said in a statement that Hamas supported a proposal by Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa to establish an independent body that would comprise Palestinians and Arabs to deal with the financial aid earmarked for the Gaza Strip. "My government will facilitate the work of such a body," Haniyeh said. "Our goal now is to alleviate the suffering of our people. We have no plans to receive the financial aid because we want to help reach this goal." Haniyeh has been in hiding since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead. His aides said that he would reappear only after a cease-fire with Israel is formally reached. Kuwait said on Tuesday that it would not channel funds to the Gaza Strip through the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah. Instead, the Kuwaiti government will deposit the financial aid with the Arab Development Fund, an independent body consisting of representatives of different Arab countries. The decision came at the request of a number of Kuwaiti parliamentarians who said that they don't trust Abbas and PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad because of reports about financial corruption in the PA. Meanwhile, PA security forces in the West Bank have arrested five Palestinian journalists in the past week as part of an ongoing massive crackdown on Hamas supporters and members. In a separate development, Fatah gunmen in Nablus set fire to a car belonging to Prof. Abdel Sattar Kassam, a former presidential candidate and outspoken critic of the PA leadership. A Fatah militia operating in Nablus issued a statement in which it claimed responsibility for the torching of the car. The PA security forces in the city said they have launched an investigation. It was the second time that Kassam's car had been torched in recent years. The political science professor was recently detained by the PA security forces on charges of expressing solidarity with Hamas during Operation Cast Lead and criticizing PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his senior aides. One of the journalists arrested by the PA security forces is Khaled Amayreh, a resident of Hebron who has long been reporting about financial corruption in the PA. Amayreh was arrested on suspicion of being affiliated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, a PA security commander told The Jerusalem Post. "His arrest had nothing to do with the fact that he's a journalist," the commander said. "He was arrested because of his links to Islamic organizations." Amayreh spent 55 hours in a cell inside a prison belonging to the PA's much-feared Preventative Security Service in Hebron. He said that while he himself had not been physically abused, he heard the screams of other detainees who were apparently being tortured. The other four journalists who were arrested by various branches of the PA security forces work for Hamas's Al-Aksa television station. One of them, Samer Khawireh, was arrested on Sunday for reporting about the torching of Kassam's car in Nablus. Ahmed al-Bikawi, the station's correspondent in Jenin, was arrested on Monday by agents belonging to the PA's Military Intelligence Service in the West Bank. Also this week, the PA security forces briefly detained Ibrahim al-Rantisi, who works for Al-Aksa TV in Ramallah, and Mamdouh Hamamreh, the station's reporter in Bethlehem. Rantisi and Hamamreh were released after being questioned about their alleged ties to Hamas.