Gaza: ‘rebel-held territory’?

The Palestinian Authority is mulling a proposal to declare the Gaza Strip “rebel-held territory.”

Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior parliamentarian from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction, made the revelation in an interview with Asharq al-Awsat daily newspaper published Monday.

Fatah’s Islamist rival Hamas seized control of Gaza last June after a brief civil war. Abbas responded by dissolving his coalition government with Hamas and reviving peace talks with Israel.

Ahmad accused Hamas of recalcitrance and said the Palestinian Authority may be forced to declare the territory to be under hostile rebel rule.

“It is the right of a legitimate government to use force to put down a rebellion,” Ahmad said in the interview, but added that the Palestinian Authority would prefer to avoid this option.

The interview comes amid a wave of bombings against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip that has stoked intra-Palestinian tensions.

Bombs left at various Gaza City locations linked to Hamas killed seven Palestinians Friday, among them five gunmen from the Islamist group and a young bystander.

Hamas blamed Fatah for the attack, arresting some 200 of the rival faction’s activists in Gaza over the weekend.

In the West Bank, where Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah still holds sway, dozens of Hamas members were detained in what appeared to be a punitive round-up.

Abbas on Sunday denied involvement in the Gaza bombings and asked Egypt to host reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas even though Hamas has rejected his precondition that they give up Gaza.

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