Fatah’s Central Committee on Saturday night condemned Hamas in strong, wide-ranging terms for abuses during the recent Gaza war, particularly accusing the Islamist movement of targeting Fatah members and stealing humanitarian aid.
The Jeruslaem Post reports that Fatah accused Hamas of confiscating food and medicine sent to the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and other countries. It said Hamas distributed the aid among its men in mosques and sold some of it in the black market.
Fatah also accused Hamas militias of abusing and endangering Hamas members during the Gaza hostilities.
Fatah said Hamas representatives shot and beat dozens of Fatah members during the war, some of whom had to be transferred for medical treatment to the West Bank.
The statement said Hamas also placed more than 300 Fatah members in Gaza under house arrest, exposing them to Israeli air strikes. Israel frequently warned inhabitants of buildings it was going to attack in an effort to get civilians to evacuate; strict house arrest prevented the Fatah members from escaping those structures.
Other Fatah members were kept in Hamas prisons during the war, which also endangered their lives, the statement said.
The verbal attacks are likely an indication of renewed tensions between the two rivals in the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge. The accusations indicate that the reconciliation agreement between the parties, agreed to earlier this year, may be in jeopardy.
The two sides did show a degree of unity during the war, with only muted criticism of each other while the war was raging. Both sides insisted that their reconciliation agreement was not affected by the war.
Fatah said it preferred to remain silent toward the Hamas “crimes” during the war out of a desire to preserve Palestinian unity. However, the statement issued by Fatah shows a wide gap still separating the two parties.
The harsh statement should also be viewed in the context of political jockeying and efforts to discredit each other between the leaders of Hamas and Fatah. Post-war polling has shown a surge of support for Hamas among Palestinians, and currently shows an overwhelming majority favoring Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh over Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas to be the leader of a unified Palestinian Authority by a 62%-32% margin.