Ali Waked
May 31, 2009 - 12:00am,7340,L-3723685,00.html

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said following clashes between Fatah and Hamas in the West Bank Sunday that the Palestinian Authority would "strike with an iron fist" against anyone attempting to harm Palestinian interests.

A Palestinian Authority (PA) official said that Sunday's fierce clashes in Qalqilya, which left six people dead, were part of the Authority's efforts to curb Hamas' increased activity in the West Bank, which includes resuming the activity of its military cells and obtaining arms and explosives.

Six people – three Palestinian policemen, two Hamas gunmen and a passerby - were killed in the clashes.

Abbas eulogized the three Palestinian security guards who were killed during the fight, saying they had sacrificed themselves for a nationally significant cause.

The source said that while he does not foresee a Hamas takeover of the West Bank in the near future, the PA is certain to face new challenges in trying to contain the Islamist group's subversive activities.

Hamas violently took over the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007.
The source said the past few months have seen Hamas increase its efforts to funnel money into the West Bank to help resume the activities of its armed wing there. Despite the PA's efforts, Hamas cells in the West Bank have obtained arms and military know-how, he said, adding that more and more elements within Fatah and other factions are cooperating with Hamas due to their dissatisfaction with the PA's conduct.

Referring to the clashes in Qalqilya, the source said Hamas gunmen will opt to resist arrest in order to taint the PA's image and present it as an entity that is cooperating with Israel.

Hamas claims the PA cooperated with Israel during the incident in Qalqilya and in the recent killing of Abdel Majid Dudin, head of Hamas' military wing in South Mount Hebron. The PA fears Hamas will attempt to assassinate its senior officials in the West Bank.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017