Hamas accused the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority of attempting to destabilize security in the Gaza Strip Wednesday, indicating Egyptian efforts to reconcile the rival Palestinian political groups may prove premature.
In a Wednesday afternoon press conference, Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bezem said security forces had arrested several individuals linked to the PA who he alleged were instrumental in carrying out a spate of bombing attacks in the coastal territory in recent weeks.
The accusations came hours after an Egyptian official said Cairo had been working to bring the rival factions toward a detente.
During the conference Hamas screened what they claimed was a recorded confession of one of the men involved in the attacks. In the video, Jabalya refugee camp resident Naim Abu Fol said he had attempted to carry out a car bombing in a Shejaiya neighborhood market, under the direct orders of Palestinian Authority officials.
Abu Fol said he had been recruited and funded by Mahmoud Habbash, religious affairs adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas. He also said he had received operative orders from top Palestinian security official Sammi Nasman.
“I bought an old Renault car from a stranger for $500. Inside there was a bomb and a gas container that was meant to enhance the blast. [Nasman] told me where exactly it needs to be detonated within Shejaiya,” Abu Fol reportedly said.
Hamas further accused Abbas’ security services of establishing dozens of websites and fictitious Facebook accounts in an effort to spread anarchy within the Strip and bring down Hamas rule.
The group demanded Palestinian unity government Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah hold accountable the officials who they claimed led the attacks.
Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip from Abbas’s Fatah movement in 2007.
In June 2014 a Palestinian unity government was established after an agreement was reached between the rival parties. Prior to the agreement, there were two separate governments, one ruled by Fatah in the West Bank and the other by Hamas in Gaza.
After a six-month term, Hamas declared that the government had ended, though Fatah denied the claim and said it was still in force.
An Egyptian official revealed Wednesday that Cairo has been working to renew talks toward reconciliation between the rival groups, which remain deeply divided despite being partners in the unity government.
“Our efforts are ongoing and continuous despite events in the region,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdel Atty said in an interview with the Palestinian news site Donia Al-Watan. “As far as we are concerned Palestine is the main issue in the area, and we need to do everything to establish an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem.
Atty’s statements came as senior Hamas officials confirmed Tuesday that some of the group’s representatives residing outside the Gaza Strip have been conducting discussions with senior officials from the Egyptian intelligence service recently about patching up relations between Gaza and Cairo.
AP and Stuart Winer contributed to this report.