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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Palestinian Authority's Abbas: Hamas 'preparing
a terrorist attack' against West Bank leadership

RAMALLAH — The Palestinian Authority has reported a Hamas plot to attack the Fatah-aligned leadership and kill selected inviduals in the West Bank.   

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Hamas's military wing was targeting Palestinian leaders in the West Bank. Abbas said Hamas cells were stockpiling weapons and explosives in preparation for major attacks on the PA.

"Hamas is preparing a terrorist attack," Abbas said. "Furthermore, we have learned that there is a group that is preparing to kill certain people."

In a television interview on July 1, Abbas disclosed what he described as a Hamas plot to overthrow his regime, Middle East Newsline reported. The chairman said PA security forces have captured Hamas operatives and weapons caches.

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"They are stockpiling arms, ammunition and explosives," Abbas told the Russian Today satellite television. "We're watching them and we will get them."

This was the first time Abbas, whose term expired in January 2009, accused Hamas of plotting to assassinate PA leaders. In the past, Abbas warned of the emergence of a Hamas military infrastructure in the West Bank.

Abbas said PA forces have been seizing Hamas weapons caches in West Bank cities. In one unidentified residential area, he said, the PA found a Hamas cache that consisted of two tons of explosives, small arms, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and machine guns.

Officials said the PA has detained 700 Hamas operatives over the last year, many of them identified as military wing members. The PA has pledged to release 100 Hamas agents detained in 2009.

Hamas was said to maintain military cells in such cities as Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, Kalkilya, Nablus, Ramallah and Tulkarm. In late May and early June, at least eight people were killed in Hamas gun battles with the PA in Kalkilya.

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