Hamas accuses Fatah of organising military cell in Gaza

Sunday 01/05/2016
Who’s blocking reconciliation?

GAZA CITY - The militant Palestinian Hamas movement accused its rival Fatah on Wednesday of organising a military cell to "breach security and stability" in the Gaza Strip.

In the latest sign of tensions between the Palestinian factions, Iyad al-Bozum, the interior ministry spokesman in the Hamas-run strip, accused senior Fatah leaders of "being behind the cell and communicating with it," without naming those allegedly involved.

Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007, while Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah movement controls the occupied West Bank.

Bozum said the cell was made up of "fewer than 10 people who were arrested around a month ago."

He said they aimed to "affect the internal situation in the Gaza Strip and internal relations," including through "incitement," but would not provide further details.

Fayez Abu Aita, spokesman for Fatah in Gaza, denied the accusations and said the charges would "complicate the internal situation and hinder reconciliation efforts."

Officials from Hamas and Fatah have been meeting in the Qatari capital Doha in recent months as they seek a reconciliation agreement.

Abu Aita said talks were ongoing but that "complicating matters like these affect the dialogue."

The two sides agreed a unity deal in April 2014, which was supposed to lead to a technocratic government taking over administration of Gaza and the West Bank.

However Hamas never accepted relinquishing its authority in Gaza, and the two sides remain at loggerheads.