Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 July 2019

Mahmoud Abbas' party accuses Hamas of assassination attempt on spokesman

A senior official in the coastal enclave was beaten and left badly injured on Monday

Members of Hamas' military wing Al Qassam Brigades ride in vehicles during the funeral of six of their comrades who were killed in an unexplained explosion the night before, in Deir Al Balah in the central Gaza strip on May 6, 2018. AFP
Members of Hamas' military wing Al Qassam Brigades ride in vehicles during the funeral of six of their comrades who were killed in an unexplained explosion the night before, in Deir Al Balah in the central Gaza strip on May 6, 2018. AFP

The party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has accused Hamas of attempting to assassinate its spokesperson in the Gaza Strip after he was beaten badly in the coastal enclave.

Atef Abu Seif was left badly injured in Gaza on Monday after days of violent protests by Gazans led to a crackdown by Hamas’ security forces. The Fatah party accused the group of responsibility for the attack. Palestinian news agency Wafa showed him with a bandaged head and leg and his clothes covered in blood.

Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007 when it routed Fatah to takeover the enclave. But an Israeli siege has crippled the territory and Gazans have become increasingly angry at their situation. They have taken to the streets over rising prices and increased taxation.

Fatah’s deputy chairman Mahmoud Aloul said that Hamas had tried to kill Mr Seif.

Hamas denied the claim and said its police forces are probing the attack on the Fatah official.

The group has been accused of violently cracking down on the popular protests and the United Nations Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said he was alarmed by the “brutal beating” of journalists and human rights workers.

Tahseen Astal, a member of the Gaza Journalists' Syndicate, said Hamas forces had assaulted dozens of local Palestinian journalists and four were hospitalised for their injuries. He said that police raided journalists' homes following their posts on social media and that seven remained in custody.

Driven by Hamas tax hikes and the desperation of living under Israeli-Egyptian blockade, hundreds of Palestinians have rallied under the slogan "We Want To Live" to protest the rising cost of living in the enclave. Videos have circulated online showing Hamas officials forcibly dispersing demonstrations.

Organisers of the demonstrations, who have kept their identities hidden from the public, said in a statement that protesters were exercising their right to freedom of expression under Palestinian law.

Hamas has accused the security services of the rival Fatah movement, the main faction in the Palestinian Authority, of masterminding the protests in an attempt to weaken it. Fatah officials denied the allegation.

The Palestinian Authority has been imposing economic sanctions in Gaza to try to force Hamas, which seized the enclave in 2007, to implement a power-sharing agreement.

Updated: March 19, 2019 11:54 AM

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