The Hamas movement has arrested several members of rival faction Fatah in the Gaza Strip over commemorations marking the anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death, a Fatah official alleged Sunday.
“We condemn the summoning and arrest of some of our members and demand to stop them immediately,” the West Bank-based official said, according to AFP.
The two factions traded accusations over who was responsible for the absence of rallies to mark the anniversary in the Gaza Strip.
In a statement, Fatah called on Hamas “to end the division and achieve national unity” by lifting a ban on celebrating the anniversary.
For its part, Hamas accused Fatah of refusing to cooperate on a joint commemoration of Arafat’s death. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri wrote on his Facebook page that Fatah was insisting “it should be only a Fatah ceremony.”
Tensions between the two factions are not uncommon on the anniversary of Arafat’s death. Hamas banned celebrations in Gaza after its security forces killed several people when clashes broke out at a memorial rally in 2007.
Arafat was the founder of Fatah and the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization until his death on November 11, 2004, in Paris. Palestinian factions have been at odds since Hamas won the Palestinian elections in 2006 and went on to effect a bloody takeover of the Strip in 2007, leaving the PA, led by President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, in control of Palestinian-held territories in the West Bank.
Many Palestinians believe Israel poisoned Arafat, but Israel categorically denies the accusation. Swiss scientists recently found evidence that supports the Palestinian claim that Arafat was poisoned, but said that their findings were not conclusive.