By ETHAN BRONNER
Published: December 22, 2010
JERUSALEM — Tensions were rising on Wednesday between Fatah and Hamas, the two main Palestinian political factions, over a leaked American diplomatic cable and ongoing accusations by each side regarding the other’s arrests, plans and statements.
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Hatem Moussa/Associated Press
Hamas members took positions outside a police building they seized from Fatah security forces in Gaza City in June 2007.
Articles in this series examine American diplomatic cables as a window on relations with the rest of the world in an age of war and terrorism.
Under ‘High-Tech House Arrest,’ WikiLeaks Founder Takes the Offensive (December 23, 2010)
Gen. Adnan Damiri, spokesman for the security services of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, called a news conference and said that Hamas rockets, rocket launchers and automatic weapons had been found in Ramallah and Nablus. This was evidence, he said, of plans by Hamas to attack fellow Palestinians.
“The security institutions are carefully considering the seriousness of the incitements to killing and the chaos that the illegal Hamas militias and leadership are carrying out in Gaza and Damascus,” he said, referring to the movement’s leaders, who are divided between Gaza and Damascus, Syria.
Earlier, Fatah denied the assertions of a cable from 2007 released by WikiLeaks, in which the head of the Israeli Shin Bet security service, Yuval Diskin, is quoted as saying that Fatah forces asked Israel to attack Hamas in Gaza and that the Palestinian Authority shared its intelligence with Israel.
“They are approaching a zero-sum situation, and yet they ask us to attack Hamas,” Mr. Diskin was quoted as saying. “We have never seen this before. They are desperate.”
In a statement, Fatah said that none of its members had ever acted in that way and that the leak was part of a Shin Bet plot to undermine the Palestinian Authority.
General Damiri added that WikiLeaks should not be taken as truth without verification. “I wonder what Diskin was talking about,” he said.
Hamas officials said the leaked cable proved that the Palestinian Authority was and remained a collaborator with Israel.
Salah Bardawil, a Hamas official in Gaza, said the cable was further evidence that Fatah “wants to serve the occupation to uproot the resistance led by Hamas.”
Fatah supporters accuse Hamas of increasing arrests of its opponents in Gaza and mistreating them just as Hamas accuses the Palestinian Authority of arresting its followers and torturing them in West Bank prisons.
General Damiri denied the accusations, saying that there may have been individual errors by security force members but that the Palestinian Authority forces respected human rights.
After years of domination by Fatah, the more nationalist and secular of the two movements, Palestinian politics shifted when Hamas, which has an Islamist orientation and support from Iran, won Palestinian legislative elections in 2006. An uneasy power-sharing effort fell apart in June 2007 when Hamas forces pushed Fatah out of Gaza. Attempts at reconciliation have failed repeatedly.
Khaled Abu Aker contributed reporting from Ramallah, West Bank.