Abbas slams Hamas: Gaza’s ‘oppressors’ belong in ‘garbage bin of history’

PA leader’s comments come during hospital visit to senior Fatah official allegedly beaten by Hamas operatives in the Strip

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visits an injured Fatah official, Atef Abu Seif, in Ramallah on March 20, 2019. (YouTube screen capture)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visits an injured Fatah official, Atef Abu Seif, in Ramallah on March 20, 2019. (YouTube screen capture)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said last week that the “oppressors” of the Gaza Strip would end up in “the garbage bin of history,” in apparent reference to the territory’s Hamas rulers.

Abbas’s comments came during a visit to a Ramallah hospital where a senior member of Abbas’s Fatah faction, Atef Abu Seif, was recovering from an assault last week that Fatah has blamed on the terror group.

Abu Seif, a highly regarded novelist, serves as Fatah’s top spokesman in Gaza and is a member of the group’s central committee. He was badly beaten last Monday by a group of men near his home in the enclave, the official Fatah-aligned Palestinian news agency Wafa has reported.

Hamas denied responsibility and pledged to investigate the attack, which came amid a violent crackdown by its security forces on protests in the Gaza Strip.

In a video posted to Abbas’s YouTube channel last Wednesday, the PA president was seen visiting Abu Seif in the Ramallah hospital.

Atef Abu Seif, spokesman for Fatah in Gaza and a member of its central committee, lies in a hospital bed in Gaza City on March 19, 2019. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

“I’ve come to raise your morale. Get well, get well,” Abbas told Abu Seif, according to a translation provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

After exchanging pleasantries, Abbas said, “May Allah support the [people of Gaza]. The sacrifices they have made will never be forgotten. Their actions cannot be forgotten. The people of Gaza are the ones who started the revolution, and they should be the ones to bring it to completion, Allah willing.”

Then he added: “As for them, they should be thrown into the garbage bin of history.”

A Wafa report appeared to confirm that Abbas was referring to Hamas. “Those oppressors will end up in the trash bin of history,” it quoted him as saying. “I always say that about those who break away from Palestinian legitimacy. There are many who have and they have all gone to the trash bin of history.”

Abbas then received a briefing about Abu Seif’s wounds, which included a cut across the head that required 18 stitches.

Abu Seif told Abbas there were 25 attackers, “all wearing masks.”

“They can to go hell. Those dogs,” Abbas replied.

Mahmoud Aloul, Fatah’s deputy chairman, accused Hamas of carrying out an assassination attempt.

Iyad al-Bozum, spokesman for Gaza’s interior ministry, condemned the incident and told AFP that “the police are investigating the attack.”

In 2015, Abu Seif was shortlisted for a prestigious Arabic literature prize but couldn’t attend the ceremony in Morocco because of alleged Hamas harassment. He said he had learned storytelling from his refugee grandmother, who recounted happier times in Gaza.

Hamas ousted Fatah and took control of Gaza in a brief and bloody civil war in 2007. It has faced a series of protests in recent days over rising prices and hardship.

Atef Abu Seif sitting in front of a portrait of late Palestinian poet and author Mahmoud Darwish in Gaza City in 2015. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Hamas security forces have responded by using violence to break up gatherings and dozens of journalists, rights workers and others have been arrested.

The United Nations last Sunday condemned the response, and on Monday, Amnesty International said its local researcher had been detained for several hours by Hamas.

“The crackdown on freedom of expression and the use of torture in Gaza has reached alarming new levels,” said Saleh Higazi, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Amnesty.

“Over the past few days, we have seen shocking human rights violations carried out by Hamas security forces against peaceful protesters, journalists and rights workers,” he said.

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