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PALESTINIANS CELEBRATE in Gaza City last week after Hamas said it reached a deal with rival Fatah..(Photo by: REUTERS)
Hamas, Fatah tensions rise; accuse each other of collaborating with Israel
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
01/02/2019
Fatah officials in the West Bank said on Wednesday that Hamas’s actions against their men indicate that there’s no chance that the two parties could ever resolve their differences.
Tensions between Hamas and Fatah have intensified in the past few days as the two Palestinian rival parties continue to exchange allegations and insults.

Now, Hamas and Fatah are accusing each other of being “spies” for Israel.

The tensions reached their peak earlier this week, when Fatah accused Hamas of detaining 500 of its men in the Gaza Strip. The detentions, according to Fatah, were aimed at thwarting plans to celebrate the 54th anniversary of the launching of Fatah’s first attacks against Israel. Fatah was planning to mark the occasion by holding several rallies throughout the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

According to Fatah, dozens of the men who were detained by Hamas were subjected to various forms of physical torture. Hamas security officers also raided the homes of scores of Fatah officials and activists, confiscating material and equipment that was supposed to be used during the Fatah rallies.

The Hamas crackdown has enraged Fatah leaders in Ramallah. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who also serves as chairman of Fatah, launched a scathing attack on Hamas. In a speech, Abbas strongly denounced the Hamas measures against his supporters in the Gaza Strip. He even went as far as hinting that Hamas was working for Israel. “Those who prevent us from marking this occasion are spies,” he said, referring to Hamas. “We have been suffering from the spies here and there, and they will end up in the dustbin of history.”

Abbas used the Arabic word jasous when he talked about the “spies.” Palestinians often use the word to label those who collaborate with or serve as informants of Israel.

Abbas was especially enraged by the fact that Hamas had allowed supporters of his archival, Mohammed Dahlan, to hold their own rallies to celebrate the 54th anniversary of Fatah’s first attack against Israel.

Hamas quickly responded by hinting that the 83-year-old Abbas was senile and talking nonsense. “Abbas’s speech is trivial,” retorted Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. “The real spy is not the Gaza Strip, which has dazed the occupation – rather, it’s the man who was described by Yasser Arafat as the Karzai of Palestine.”

The Hamas spokesman was referring to Hamid Karzai, who became Afghanistan’s head of state in 2001 after the Taliban government was overthrown. Karzai is regularly referred to by Arabs and Muslims as a puppet in the hands of the US and other Western countries.

Arafat is reported to have described Abbas as the Karzai of Palestine after the latter was appointed as prime minister of the PA under pressure from the US and other Western countries.

SEVERAL OTHER Hamas leaders and spokesmen reacted with outrage to Abbas’s charge. They used the words dictator, senile, mentally unstable, traitor, collaborator and liar to condemn the Fatah leader. The Hamas representatives said that Abbas was the real collaborator because of the security coordination between his security forces and Israel in the West Bank.

Hamas has also denied Fatah’s claim that 500 of its men had been detained in the Gaza Strip in the past few days. According to Hamas sources, only 38 senior Fatah men were summoned for questioning in the context of Hamas’s effort to maintain calm and order in the Gaza Strip.

Fatah officials in the West Bank said on Wednesday that Hamas’s actions against their men indicate that there’s no chance that the two parties could ever resolve their differences. The officials pointed out that the Egyptians have given up on their repeated attempts to end the Hamas-Fatah rift.

“That’s it: There will be no dialogue with Hamas,” said Hussein al-Shiekh, a senior Fatah official in the West Bank. “We have notified Egypt and Qatar that their efforts to achieve reconciliation [between Hamas and Fatah] have reached a dead end.”

Shiekh, who also serves as the PA’s Minister for Civilian Affairs – a job that requires him to serve as the chief liaison officer with Israel – accused Hamas of stealing funds earmarked for water and electricity in the Gaza Strip.

Worse, he claimed that Hamas was working with Israel and the US administration to implement US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East, which is also known as the “deal of the century.” Hamas, he charged, wants to create a Muslim Brotherhood emirate in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas-affiliated online sites have responded by publishing photos of al-Sheikh shaking hands and meeting with IDF officers. The goal: to show that the top Fatah leader is a collaborator with Israel and a traitor.

Hamas said on Wednesday that the PA security forces have arrested dozens of Hamas supporters in the West Bank in the past few days. According to Hamas, the PA’s ongoing security crackdown in the West Bank is further proof that Abbas and his Fatah officials are working with Israel.

Abbas’s recent decision to dissolve the Palestinian parliament – the Palestinian Legislative Council – has also increased tension between his Fatah faction and Hamas. Hamas, whose representatives won a majority of the council’s seats in the 2006 parliamentary election, has accused Abbas of acting in violation of the Palestinian Basic Law.

Last week, PA security forces in the West Bank prevented senior Hamas officials from holding a news conference in Ramallah to protest against Abbas’s “unconstitutional” decision. Before that, PA policemen used force in Hebron and Nablus to disperse Hamas supporters celebrating the 31st anniversary of the founding of Hamas.

Until recently, it appeared as if the Egyptians were on the verge of reaching another “historic” reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah. The two parties have signed several reconciliation accords in the past 11 years, but none have been implemented. The last reconciliation agreement was signed in Cairo in October 2017. That accord, too, has yet to be implemented.

Judging from the actions and words of Fatah and Hamas, it now seems that the chances of ending the split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are virtually zero.
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