Palestinian resistance group Hamas on Saturday blasted statements made by the Fatah movement’s revolutionary council in which it said it was mulling its “options” to retake the Hamas-run Gaza Strip in the event that upcoming reconciliation talks between the two groups fail.
“Fatah’s threats to ‘retake’ Gaza betray the truth of its intentions,” Hamas said in a statement.
Hamas went on to urge Fatah, which leads the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA), to “leave custodianship [of the Gaza Strip] up to the Palestinian people, respect election results, and adopt the principle of partnership”.
On Friday, Fatah’s revolutionary council stated that – should upcoming reconciliation talks in Doha between the two groups fail – “other options” for retaking the strip from Hamas would be considered.
In mid-2007, two years after Israeli forces withdrew from the Gaza Strip and one year after Hamas swept Palestinian legislative polls, clashes erupted in the territory between the two groups.
The clashes ended with Fatah’s total defeat and the establishment of de facto Hamas rule throughout the coastal enclave.
Ever since, Hamas has accused Fatah – which administers the Israeli-occupied West Bank through the PA – of attempting to undermine its control of the Gaza Strip.
The differences between the two groups are largely ideological.
Islamist Hamas supports armed resistance against Israel and demands the return of all of historical Palestine. Secular Fatah, for its part, insists on negotiating with the Jewish state – even though previous peace talks have failed to produce any breakthroughs.
In April of 2014, Hamas and Fatah signed a “reconciliation” agreement, which led to the formation of a Palestinian unity government two months later.
The Ramallah-based unity government, however, has yet to assume formal control of the Gaza Strip due to ongoing differences between the two movements.