Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas criticized Hamas on Friday for firing rockets at Israel.
“What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?” Abbas asked on Palestine TV, without explicitly naming Hamas, which recently lent its backing to his government after a seven-year rift. “We prefer to fight with wisdom and politics.”
It was the first time Abbas has openly criticized militants for firing hundreds of rockets into Israel over the past month. The public nature of his critique may further strain his political alliance with Hamas, which has already developed cracks over finances and his denunciation of the abduction of three Israeli teenagers, whose killing Israel has blamed on the militant group.
At the same time Abbas is contemplating joining the International Criminal Court (ICC) as part of a political assault on Israel and has asked the United Nations to extend protection to Gaza.
Still, Abbas’s comments did not sit well with Hamas. According the Jerusalem Post, “Hamas accused the PA chief of ‘acting as a third party’ while branding him ‘a criminal’ and ‘a Likud member.’”
Abbas wasn’t the only Palestinian official to condemn Hamas. Ynet reports that the Palestinian delegate to the UN Human Rights Council, Ibrahim Khreisheh, condemned Hamas, and by association, the Palestinian Authority. (A video of the exchange, translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, is embedded below.) After condemning Israel’s presence in the West Bank as a violation of international law, Khreisheh turned to the conduct of the war between Israel and Hamas.
Relating to Israel’s mode of operation in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge, Khreisheh states: “Please note that many of our people in Gaza appeared in TV and said that the Israeli army warned them to evacuate their homes before bombardment. In such a case, if someone is killed, the law considers it a mistake rather than intentional killing, because (the Israelis) followed the legal procedures.”
He goes on to say that Hamas, firing from PA controlled areas, does not warn civilians before firing on them and by doing so is committing a war crime: “As for the missiles launched from our side, we never warn anyone about where these missiles are about to fall, or about the operation we carry out.”
The envoy concludes by saying that the PA has no hope of pressing charges against Israel in international courts: “Therefore, people should know more before they talk emotionally about appealing to the ICC.”
Khreisheh’s argument echoes that of former ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.
[Photo: The White House / YouTube ]