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Middle East
Hamas: Fatah helped Israel in war
Fatah and Hamas in continuing spat two days before scheduled reconciliation talks.
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2009 02:50 GMT
Fatah accuses Hamas of trying to derail Palestinian reconciliation talks [AFP]

Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have locked horns, with accusations of spying for Israel and trying to derail inter-factional talks.

The spat comes ahead of "reconciliation talks" between the factions scheduled to take place in Egypt on Wednesday.

Hamas on Monday accused Fatah of spying for Israel during Israel's three-week offensive against the Gaza Strip in December and January, and released videos of alleged confessions by men they claim were from Fatah.

It said the Israelis were able to do massive damage and hit targets with such precision because of inside information from what Hamas said were "Fatah collaborators".

A Hamas security official alleged that Fatah agents had passed sensitive information, including using Google Earth to pinpoint targets in the Gaza Strip, to the Palestinian Authority, who then passed it on to the Israeli air force.

"With the help of the Google Earth programme, those groups prepared maps to localise mosques, institutions, tunnels or workshops," said Abu Abdallah, a senior intelligence officer in the Hamas movement which rules the Gaza Strip.

He said the information included plans of the home of Ismail Haniya, the Hamas leader deposed as prime minister, as well as the location of tunnels and weapons caches.

A spokesman for the Hamas's interior ministry told a news conference that the video contained real confessions, not propaganda.

"We have this information. It is not lies," said Ihab al-Ghossein. "We have these people and everybody saw these people today."

Reconciliation talks

Fatah dismissed Hamas's allegations as propaganda and accused its rival of trying to derail efforts at reconciliation through a media campaign.

Hamas says it has video footage of Fatah "collaborators" [AFP]
Yasir Abed Rabbo, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation executive committee, said the Hamas media campaign was aimed at disrupting the internal Palestinian dialogue.

"This is part of a plan being carried out by Hamas leadership in Damascus to push back the Cairo dialogue," he said, referring to talks involving several Palestinian factions being hosted by Egypt on Wednesday.

A similar bid for reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas last November failed following reports that Hamas would not be present at the meeting in Egypt.

Fatah, the main faction in the Palestinian Authority, has been locked in a power struggle with Hamas in the Palestinian territories, a rivalry that was deepened in June 2007 when Hamas forces routed forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and Fatah chief.

Hamas has run Gaza ever since, with Abbas's Western-backed Palestinian Authority governing the West Bank.

Source:
Agencies
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