‘Nothing has changed’: Despite accord, Hamas ‘still ruling’ Gaza

Special to WorldTribune.com

GAZA CITY — Despite a Palestinian unity government, Hamas remains in control of the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian sources said Hamas has maintained its military and security forces despite the introduction of Palestinian Authority security officers in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh

The sources said Hamas continued to control the borders of the 360-square kilometer enclave and arrest suspected dissidents, including those from the Fatah movement.

“On the ground, nothing has changed,” a source said.

The sources said Hamas has nominally transferred civilian control of the
Gaza Strip to the PA. But they said Hamas has not withdrawn any of its
troops from cities and towns.

“Even if we are out of the government, we are still ruling,” outgoing
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said.

The return of the PA has created a dual authority along the Gaza
borders. At the Rafah and Keren Shalom border crossings, travelers have been
first inspected by PA officers before questioned by Hamas security

On June 3, Hamas security units arrested a prominent Fatah official as
he returned from Egypt. The official was identified as Arafat Abu Shabab,
and his detention sparked complaints from the PA.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have also been trading missile and rocket fire
with Israel. On June 24, a Palestinian rocket landed in the northern Gaza
town of Beit Lahiya, killing a child and injuring several others. Two days
earlier, a 10-year-old boy was injured by another errant Palestinian rocket

“PCHR calls upon the government in Gaza to open a serious investigation
into the circumstances of these incidents and take necessary measures to
protect the Palestinian civilians and their property,” the Palestinian
Center for Human Rights said on June 25.

Under the reconciliation accord, the PA was allowed to deploy 3,000
officers in the Gaza Strip. The officers were to be assigned to non-security
duties, such as traffic police and civil defense.

“Hamas won’t abdicate its role and allow the return of chaos to the Gaza
Strip,” the source said. “So far, the PA has not proven capable of even
meeting its commitment to pay the salaries of civil servants, let alone run

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