Hamas accuses Palestinian Authority of holding up unity pact
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Hamas accuses Palestinian Authority of holding up unity pact

PA dismisses as 'irresponsible' terror group's charge it has not worked to 'ease the sufferings of the people of Gaza'

This file photo taken on November 27, 2017, shows Palestinian youths holding a banner reading "reconciliation is our choice," at an event organized by Hamas' sports committee, in the southern Gaza town of Rafah. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)
This file photo taken on November 27, 2017, shows Palestinian youths holding a banner reading "reconciliation is our choice," at an event organized by Hamas' sports committee, in the southern Gaza town of Rafah. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

GAZA CITY — Hamas on Saturday accused the Palestinian Authority of blocking a landmark unity deal and called for a lifting of its sanctions on the Gaza Strip.

“We demand that the government of (prime minister) Rami Hamdallah assume its responsibilities in full and lift the unjust sanctions imposed on our people in Gaza,” said the terror group, which controls the coastal enclave.

The Gaza Strip has been blockaded by Israel for a decade, while its only other land border — with Egypt — has also been largely sealed in recent years. Israel maintains the blockade is necessary to prevent the smuggling of weapons that could be used in attacks on the Jewish state. Hamas, which seized control of the Strip in 2007, seeks to destroy Israel.

This file photo taken on November 1, 2017, shows portraits of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and PA President Mahmoud Abbas hanging at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. (AFP Photo/Said Khatib)

In addition, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has imposed a string of punitive measures against Gaza, where basic infrastructure for its two million residents is severely lacking.

Residents receive only a few hours of electricity per day, and UN officials have said the densely-populated and impoverished territory is becoming rapidly unliveable.

The PA, dominated by Fatah, was scheduled to take over control of Gaza by December 1 under a landmark unity deal signed in October, but the deadline passed with the two factions accusing each other of not respecting the accord.

In its statement Saturday, Hamas charged that the Palestinian government based in the West Bank had “made no effort to lift the sanctions and ease the sufferings of the people of Gaza.”

The PA, in a statement of its own, dismissed the charges as “irresponsible.”

Abbas’s PA, seeking to squeeze Hamas, has in recent months reduced the amount it pays Israel for electricity to be piped to Gaza.

The Hamas statement referred to the electricity shortages and the fate of tens of thousands of civil servants hired by terror group, which seized the enclave in 2007 in a near civil war with Fatah.

Palestinian Authority employees return to work at the headquarters of the PA finance ministry in Gaza City on November 29, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed)

On Wednesday, PA employees were prevented from returning to work at a number of ministries in Gaza, and the handover of power in Gaza has been delayed by at least 10 days.

It is now expected to take place on December 10, following talks later Saturday in Cairo between Hamas and Fatah, sources closes to both factions have said.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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