Hamas warns PA over recent arrests

Group in charge of Gaza Strip says Palestinian Authority will be targeted if it continues arresting Hamas members.

    The Palestinian faction accused the PA of "high treason"and said its patience was running out [Reuters]

    Hamas has warned the Palestinian Authority to stop detaining its members or risk becoming a target of the group.

    The warning came after the PA confirmed it had detained seven members of Hamas's armed wing suspected of involvement in the Hebron and Ramallah shootings last week. 

    A PA official said security forces had arrested Hamas members from separate cells linked to two drive-by shooting attacks that killed four Israeli settlers and wounded two others.

    The official, speaking to the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity, would not specify the number of people arrested.

    Fawzi Barhoum, the Hamas spokesman, said: "The continuation of this criminal campaign crosses all red lines and is direct collaboration with the enemy in the light of day.

    "It will only increase Hamas's determination to continue the resistance and intensify our painful strikes on the Zionist enemy."

    'Learn the lesson'

    Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, often uses the term "Zionist enemy" to refer to Israel with which it fought in December 2008 and the better part of January 2009.

    "We call on you, Fatah militias, to learn from what happened in Gaza before the people reject you. You know full well that the hands that reached the heart of the enemy is also capable of reaching you," Hamas said in a statement posted on Wednesday on its military wing's official website.

    "Learn the lesson before it's [too] late for regrets."

    The statement added that Hamas's patience is "running out" and that it will not be able to "stay silent for long".

    Al Jazeera's Nour Odeh said: "This is the clearest threat against the Authority since Hamas took over Gaza in mid-June 2007."

    Barhoum accused the PA of "high treason" and "clear and direct collaboration with the enemy".

    He said that PA's arrests "proves once again the dangerous role of the Fatah authority as a security agent to protect the enemy, eradicate the resistance, and terminate the Palestinian cause". 

    Barhoum called on Palestinians and resistance factions to confront the Authority "and put an end to this treason".

    Shadow over talks

    Israeli reports said that the PA refused to hand over the suspects to Israel or give it any information on the arrests.

    "We won't turn them over to Israel," a Palestinian security source was quoted as saying by Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv. "They will be tried by us."

    The first drive-by shooting in Hebron occurred on August 31 and claimed the lives of four settlers, including a pregnant woman.

    The second shootingoccured a day later and wounded two settlers near Ramallah.

    Hamas claimed responsibility for both attacks, which cast a shadow over the relaunch in Washington of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks on September 2.

    The attacks were condemned by both Israeli and Palestinian leaders, with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president,  saying the shooting was intended to "disrupt the political process".

    Hamas has vehemently opposed the new talks and insisted that Abbas does not have the right to negotiate on behalf of Palestinians.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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