March 12, 2013 - 12:00am

Hamas accused Tuesday the rival Fatah movement of "depriving thousands of Gaza people of passports, " threatening to issue its own version of Palestinian travel documents.

Ibrahim Salah, spokesperson of the Hamas interior ministry, accused the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in the West Bank, where President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party holds sway, of " depriving thousands of Gaza people of passports."

He cited that some patients died while waiting for passports to go for treatment in Egypt "because of the procrastination by the Ramallah government."

According to Salah, Hamas demanded the PNA, via human rights groups and the Palestine Liberation Organization factions, sending blank passports to the coastal enclave to be filled, printed and issued, which was refused by the PNA.

However, Nour Oudeh, spokesperson for the Palestinian government in Ramallah, questioned Hamas' technical and diplomatic capacity to issue such a passport, noting that the PNA-issued passports are the only documents recognized internationally.

She added that Hamas' plan to issue passports "harms the Palestinian sovereignty and boosts the internal Palestinian division."

Hamas, which took over Gaza after routing pro-Abbas forces in 2007, says it needs 5,000 to 7,000 passports monthly.


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