Hamas is deliberately sending Gazan civilians to their deaths to grab good headlines, a senior adviser to Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas charged.
Referring to the current round of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces on the Gaza-Israel border, in which some two dozen Palestinians have been killed, Mahmoud al-Habbash — the PA’s top cleric and Abbas’s adviser on religious and Islamic affairs — ridiculed Hamas’s “emotional stories of heroism,” saying they would be more appropriate inside Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque, “after they liberated it.”
Al-Habbash said in a sermon on Friday — broadcast on PA TV and picked up and translated by the Israeli watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch — that the Palestinian population was no longer being fooled by Hamas and was backing the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is also chaired by Abbas.
Hamas was “selling illusions,” he went on, “trading in suffering and blood, trading in victims” so that it could make strong declarations on TV.
“These [Hamas] acts of ‘heroism’ don’t fool anyone anymore,” he said. “The Palestinian people…sides with the PLO.”
Hamas took over Gaza from Abbas’s Fatah in a bloody coup in 2007. Several attempts to reconcile between the parties have failed and the latest attempt has passed a deadline with no action.
Tensions between the two groups rose following the attempted assassination of PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, while he was on a visit to the enclave last month.
Last year, Abbas imposed a series of measures against the Gaza Strip that included suspending Palestinian Authority payments to Israel for electricity supplies to the coastal enclave. Abbas also cut off salaries to thousands of Gaza’s civil servants and forced many others into early retirement.
Last month, he threatened “legal, national and financial measures” against Hamas, without going into any detail.