Fatah accuses Hamas of beating one of its top Gaza Strip officials
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Fatah accuses Hamas of beating one of its top Gaza Strip officials

Fatah’s Gaza spokesman, Atef Abu Seif, assaulted by group of men near his home; Hamas denies accusation, pledges investigation

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)
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)

A senior Gaza official in the Fatah faction of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was badly beaten on Monday and the party said the enclave’s Islamist Hamas rulers were responsible for the assault.

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

Novelist Atef Abu Seif, spokesman for Fatah in Gaza and a member of its central committee, was beaten by a group of men near his home in the enclave, the official Fatah-aligned Palestinian news agency, Wafa, said.

Pictures posted on Wafa showed Abu Seif with a bandaged head and leg, his clothes speckled with blood.

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)

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.

|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 on 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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