Thursday, 7 August 2008

FATAH'S RULE IN WEST BANK TENOUS

Hamas warns of uprising against Fatah in West Bank

August 5, 2008

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — A senior Hamas official warned
Tuesday the militant group that took over Gaza a year ago
could also overrun the West Bank if it is provoked by rival
Fatah.

Tensions between the Palestinian factions remained high
after a bombing last week that killed five Hamas members in
Gaza, which was blamed on Fatah. A Hamas sweep in Gaza over
the weekend left 11 dead and dozens injured, most of them
from Fatah.

The Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, told The Associated
Press that Fatah, which rules the West Bank, should expect
"an uprising" against them if they continued a crackdown
against Hamas there.

As the conflict has intensified, Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in
the West Bank have rounded up dozens of political opponents
and there have been growing reports of beatings and
mistreatment of detainees by both sides.

Abu Zuhri said the crackdown on Hamas would not break the
movement, but would bring "the opposite result."

"It will lead to what will appear like an uprising against
the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank," he warned. Abu
Zuhri said his movement was not actively planning for a
military takeover, but it was an option.

"If arrests continue, they will lead to unforeseen
responses, whether from resistance fighters or the people,"
he said.

Abu Zuhri's interview with The AP reflected Hamas'
increasingly tough stance toward Fatah after it routed the
Fatah-linked Hilles clan in Gaza City over the weekend.

The Hamas sweep underscored the group's tight control over
Gaza.

A West Bank Fatah official responded that Hamas was issuing
empty threats.

"If they can do anything, let them do it. We are not
afraid," said Fahmi Zaarir, a spokesman for Fatah in the
West Bank.

After Hamas expelled Fatah forces from Gaza in June 2007,
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah set up a rival
government in the West Bank.

Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but maintains a large
military presence and overall security control in the West
Bank.