Mohammed Mar’i
Arab News
October 15, 2008 - 8:00pm§ion=0&article=115517&d=16&m=10&y=2008&pix=world....

Hamas movement yesterday said that the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrested 13 of its members and loyalists in several West Bank cities. Hamas said in a press statement that its members and loyalists, including university students, were arrested in the cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron, and Qalqilya.

Abbas’ forces have been cracking down on Hamas after the movement violently seized control over Gaza Strip in June 2007 after it ousted Abbas forces and senior members of his Fatah movement.

In response, Fatah also said that Hamas has cracked down against its supporters and members in the Gaza Strip. Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, warned that “the Palestinian people would revolt against these apparatuses if they persisted in their collaboration with the Israeli occupation and keep hunting Palestinian fighters.”

The Brigades also warned that it “would not remain silent forever over the conspiracy and fierce campaign against Hamas members and Al-Qassam Brigades in the West Bank.”

The development comes as Egypt works to bridge the gaps between Hamas and Fatah to end political split between the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and the West Bank where the Fatah-dominated PA rules.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Israeli internal intelligence agency, Shin Bet, has formed a team to prepare for the day after Abbas ends his tenure in Jan. 9.

Israeli defense sources told the daily Yediot Ahronot that the main concern is intelligence indicating that Hamas’ military wing may begin targeting senior Fatah and Palestinian security officials via abductions and assassination attempts.

The report said that the general consensus within the Israeli defense establishment is that if the Palestinian Authority and Hamas fail to reach an understanding about postponing the presidential elections, thus extending Abbas’ tenure, Hamas may try to inflame the area by targeting PA officials.

Fatah members are said to be extremely vigilant already, following the Palestinian security forces’ intense activity against Hamas infrastructure in the West Bank.


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