RAMALLAH, West Bank, (Reuters) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sacked a top security chief on Friday who commanded the forces routed by Hamas in Gaza last week, officials said.
Abbas issued a decree firing Rashid Abu Shbak, the head of internal security and a leader in the secular Fatah movement, saying he “is stripped of his tasks as general director”.
The order gave no details as to why Shbak was being fired or whether he was being blamed for the June 14 defeat of his forces in the Gaza Strip to Islamist Hamas.
Abbas had rejected an offer from Abu Shbak to resign a month ago over a feud with a minister of the defunct national unity government, and as factional fighting between Hamas and Fatah escalated into full-scale gun battles on Gaza’s streets.
An aide to Abu Shbak told Reuters Abbas had delayed his decision about letting him resign until today.
Some Fatah officials have urged Abbas to fire his national security adviser, Mohammad Dahlan, over the failures in Gaza, where Dahlan had his main power base. However, Dahlan, Abbas’s top security aide, appears to have kept his job for now.
Abbas issued two other decrees on Friday to further consolidate his control over the occupied West Bank where Fatah holds sway over Hamas, the group that now controls Gaza.
One of the decrees dissolved a national security council, effectively preventing Hamas, which has rejected Abbas’s emergency government, from having any role.
The Palestinian leader also cancelled the clause of a law requiring approval of cabinet minister appointments by the Palestinian parliament, where Hamas has a majority.