Tensions Rising between Fatah and Hamas

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CBNNews.com - Tensions between rival Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, continue rising, with Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces picking up dozens more Hamas-affiliated individuals in the West Bank Monday.

Among those detained by PA security forces were Hafez Shaheen, the acting mayor of Nablus, and Dr. Abdel Sattar Qassem, a lecturer and former candidate in the PA's presidential election.

The latest round of confrontations between the two groups followed a bombing Friday in the Gaza Strip, which killed five Hamas operatives and a young girl. Hamas blamed Fatah for the bombing.

According to Hamas, PA security forces have rounded up 160 Hamas members in the past two days.

A Hamas Web site lists the numbers arrested this week: 76 in Tulkarem, 54 in Nablus, 12 in Jenin, 10 in Kalkilya, five in Tubas, and two in Ramallah.

Last week, PA forces detained at least 40 Hamas-affiliated Palestinians.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Hamas clamped down on three Fatah-affiliated newspapers -- al-Quds, al-Ayyam, and al-Hayat al-Jadeeda -- banning their distribution in the Gaza Strip.

According to Jerusalem Post Palestinian Affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh, Hamas security forces arrested two Arab journalists working in Gaza: Sawah Abu Seif, a freelance cameraman, and Omar al-Farra, director of the PA's state-run Wafa news agency, with offices in southern Gaza.

The journalists told Toameh they'd received death threats from Hamas recently, warning them against publishing anything that supported Fatah.

"Many reporters are afraid to write or speak about the recent Hamas-Fatah standoff in the Gaza Strip," one journalist said. "Our work under Hamas has become extremely dangerous," he said.

Meanwhile, earlier in the week, the PA detained two journalists on suspicion of their affiliation with Hamas: Mustafa Sabri from Kalkilya and Alaa al-Titi from Hebron.

In a separate incident, a senior Hamas official accused another reporter of endorsing Fatah's explanation about Friday's bomb attack in Gaza City.

"Both Hamas and Fatah are threatening us," the reporter said. "We are under heavy pressure from both governments in Ramallah [Fatah] and in Gaza [Hamas]," he said.

The Palestinian Media Union (PMU) said journalists should not be dragged into internecine rivalry between Hamas and Fatah.

"Palestinian journalists have become the latest victims of this struggle," a spokesman for the group said.

"We must remain neutral. We must avoid serving as mouthpieces for any party," he said.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz

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