GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – Hamas on Wednesday accused the Palestinian Authority of “treason” over its arrest of members of the Islamist group in connection with the killing of Jewish settlers.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum called the arrests “national treason and direct collaboration with the (Israeli) enemy” and warned the Western-backed authority not to hand the men over to Israel.
“The continuation of this criminal campaign crosses all red lines and is direct collaboration with the enemy in the light of day,” Barhum said.
“It will only increase Hamas’s determination to continue the resistance and intensify our painful strikes on the Zionist enemy.”
A Palestinian Authority official said security forces had arrested Hamas members from separate cells linked to two drive-by shooting attacks last week that killed four Israeli settlers and wounded two others.
The official, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, would not specify the number of people arrested.
The first shooting on August 31 killed four settlers, including a pregnant woman, and the second a day later wounded two settlers near Ramallah.
Hamas claimed responsibility for both attacks, which cast a pall over the relaunch in Washington of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Hamas has accused the Palestinian Authority of arresting hundreds of its members in the wake of the killings. Palestinian security officials had previously denied making any arrests in connection with the attacks.
The attacks were condemned by both Israeli and Palestinian leaders, with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas saying the shooting was intended to “disrupt the political process.”
The Islamist Hamas movement, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since June 2007, has vehemently opposed the new talks and insisted Abbas does not have the right to negotiate on behalf of Palestinians.