Tensions Soar between Hamas and Fatah

Tensions between Hamas and Fatah have increased significantly over the first few days of 2019. Earlier in the week Fatah accused Hamas of detaining 500 of its men in the Gaza Strip, so as to thwart plans to celebrate the 54th anniversary of Fatah’s first attacks against Israel. Fatah had planned to mark the occasion by holding several rallies in the Gaza Strip.

It would seem that Fatah’s plan was a response to Hamas’ celebration of its own 31st Anniversary, which was held on 16th December. That celebration was seen as a success for Hamas due to tens of thousands of Gazans crowding the streets of Gaza City on the day. It was a huge display of support for what many see as the Palestinian resistance movement.

The damaged TV studioThe damaged TV studio (photo: Said Khatib/AFP)

Then on Friday, five armed men broke into the offices of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation in Gaza City, which is funded by the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority (PA). Staff were assaulted and equipment was destroyed, including the main studio, cameras, furniture and broadcasting equipment.

The PA holds Hamas responsible for the break-in. But Hamas have condemned it as “unacceptable behaviour” and called for the attackers to be arrested. Thus there is another dispute between Hamas and Fatah as to whom was responsible for this attack.

Now today, the spokesperson of Fatah in the Gaza Strip announced that they had decided to close all their offices in Gaza “in anticipation of any attacks on them until further notice.” The chairman of the Palestinian Broadcast Corporation said that, “Hamas is deeply involved in this conspiracy.”

So, once again, hopes for unity among the Palestinian people are shown to be ill-founded. The Israelis still have no real partner with whom to negotiate peace.

On Monday 7th January Fatah extended their withdrawal by removing their staff from the Gaza crossing with Egypt – potentially leading to the closure of that crossing, as the Egyptians prefer dealing with Fatah.

 

First published on 5th January, this article was extended on 7th January.