GAZA CITY — Aides of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas were involved in and encouraged abductions of Westerners in the Gaza Strip, according to a document released by Hamas. The PA document alleged the participation of Abbas aides in the abduction of foreign journalists, mostly Westerners, in Gaza Strip. The document, dated January 2007, asserted that the abductors were linked to a Fatah leader associated with Abbas.
The document was an official letter from then-PA Interior Minister Said Siyam to Mohammed Awad, secretary of the PA Council of Ministers, Middle East Newsline reported. In the letter, Siyam told Awad that Abbas aides were encouraging abductors of foreign journalists in the Gaza Strip. No details were provided.
Siyam, responding to a letter from Abbas adviser Rafik Al Husseini, asserted that most of the abductors of journalists were associated with an unidentified Fatah leader in the Gaza Strip. The interior minister said Abbas recruited several of the abductors for the PA Presidential Guards. Palestinian security sources said Abbas aides, particularly Mohammed Dahlan, were protecting the Dughmoush clan, based in Gaza City. Dughmoush, they said, defected from Hamas to Fatah and obtained immunity for his abduction and other attacks in the Gaza Strip.
Dughmoush was said to have led the abduction of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston. Johnston was abducted in March 2007 and released earlier in July in exchange of what the sources said was a $5 million ransom.
Meanwhile, tensions between Fatah and Hamas continued to escalate in the West Bank. On Tuesday, Fatah and Hamas students clashed in An Najah University in Nablus, and 30 of them were injured.
“The Islamic bloc issued leaflets detailing the arrests of some members by the Israeli forces, and this was the reason for the interference of the Fatah Shabiba bloc to prevent the leaflets on campus,” An Najah said in a statement. “These events resulted in the regrettable clashes between the students.”
Meanwhile in Ramallah, forces loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas have attacked the family of a Fatah leader in what could further strain relations between the government and insurgency movement.
The Presidential Guard was said to have assaulted relatives of jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti in Ramallah. PG forces stopped the vehicle of Barghouti’s daughter on late July 23, searched the car and examined her cassette tapes.
“This was a provocation,” a Barghouti family member said.
After the search, Palestinian sources said, PG officers demanded that Barghouti’s daughter, Ruba, drive to Abbas’s compound in Ramallah for interrogation. Ms. Barghouti, who had been heading home from Bir Zeit University, refused and summoned her relatives.
Within minutes, PG reinforcement as well as Barghouti’s relatives arrived. PG officers aimed their weapons and attacked Barghouti family members as well as pedestrians who sought to intervene.
Young Palestinians gathered near the Barghouti vehicle and demanded that the PG officers leave. The officers were said to have beaten Ruba’s brother, Qassam Barghouti, with their rifle butts.
The PA daily Al Hayat Al Jadida said Rafiq Husseini, head of the Presidential Court, has promised to investigate the confrontation. Marwan Barghouti, founder of Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, was convicted and sentenced to life in 2002 for ordering the killing of five people, most of them Israelis. Fatah gunmen held a demonstration of support outside Barghouti’s home. The PA issued an apology for the incident.
Palestinian sources said tensions have escalated between Abbas and the Young Guard of Fatah since the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007. Over the last few weeks, Fatah gunmen have raided Hamas offices and prevented Islamic demonstrations in several cities of the West Bank.
Source: World Tribune