Palestinian Affairs

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Arrest Sweeps, Home Demolitions Complicate Palestinian Reconciliation

Hamas is complaining over a February arrest sweep in the West Bank, conducted by the Palestinian Authority, that netted 66 of the Iran-backed terror group’s operatives. Those detained included 32 who had once been held in Israeli prisons. An additional 38 Hamas members and supporters had been summoned for interrogation.

Meanwhile in the Gaza Strip, Hamas reportedly ordered the destruction of 75 homes belonging to Fatah-affiliated families:

Hamas has ordered the demolition of 75 homes belonging to the Fatah-affiliated Abu Amrah clan in a Gaza City neighborhood. Members of the Abu Amrah clan have protested this decision at the offices of the Palestinian Legislative Council. According to Abu Salah Abu Amrah, “We are refugees and we have been living in this area for tens of years.” Another resident, Hazim Abu Hmeid, claimed, “When our children come back from school, they will not know where to go because by the time they arrive, their houses will have disappeared. The only place they will have is the street in this cold winter time.”

The arrests and house demolitions come amid the failure of recent talks aimed at achieving reconciliation between the rival Palestinian factions. Fatah spokespeople attributed the lack of progress to Hamas intransigence and Hamas spokespeople blamed Fatah.

Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 in a week-long conflict that claimed more than100 lives. Fatah remained in control of the West Bank, and efforts have been made since to bring both territories under the control of a single Palestinian government. The Palestinian Authority last year secured a declaration of non-member statehood in the United Nations, and subsequently rebranded both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single State of Palestine. The ongoing split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip governments would, under that interpretation, all but define a failed state.

[Photo: The Israel Project / Flickr]