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PFLP slams Hamas, Fatah for putting politics over lives of Palestinians in Gaza

July 13, 2017 7:11 P.M. (Updated: July 24, 2017 1:28 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) a left-wing Palestinian political faction, released statements on Thursday, criticizing both the Hamas and Fatah movements for the ongoing punitive measures that the two factions have taken against each other in recent weeks amidst a deepening political crisis.

The PFLP rejected the move by Hamas to prevent members of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Fatah Central Committee from leaving the Gaza Strip, where Hamas was elected to power in 2006, to travel to the occupied West Bank.

“The ban and the obstruction of movement from Gaza to the West Bank is a policy that Hamas follows, violating all rights and personal freedom, and damages national relations,” the PFLP said, demanding that Hamas and its security forces “immediately stop this policy and create the suitable atmosphere for better national relations and avoid any tensions that deepen the national conflict and violate rights and freedom guaranteed for all Palestinians in West bank and in Gaza Strip.”

The group went on to criticize the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) of “collective punishment” on Palestinians living in the Hamas-led Gaza Strip, which has been embroiled in a dire electricity crisis, worsened by increasing punitive measures by Israel and the PA.

The PFLP demanded that the PA immediately stop its policy of collective punishment in the besieged coastal enclave, and to stop “holding hostage the lives of more than two million Palestinians” in Gaza.

“The price that the Palestinian people pay in the Gaza Strip is so much more precious and important than the narrow partisan gains that are achieved by playing with lives of innocent Palestinians,” the statement said.

The PFLP also held the United Nations and international organizations responsible for what life will become like in the Gaza Strip and the “disasters that could happen” if the the absence of services in vital sectors such as water, health, and electricity continue.

The PFLP also warned Israel against the results of the continued siege on the Gaza Strip, saying that “a popular explosion will eventually burst against all who caused the suffering of the people.”

Political divisions between Fatah and Hamas have been at an all-time high in recent months, since an armed conflict broke out between the two groups in 2007.

The PA caused anger in Gaza in April after cutting salaries to its Gaza-based employees by up to 30 percent, while also deciding to discontinue payments to some 277 former political prisoners of Israel, with reports indicating that the move targeted former prisoners in Gaza and those affiliated with Hamas in the West Bank.

In May, the PA decided to slash funding for Israeli fuel to the coastal enclave, as Israeli authorities acceded to PA demands to dramatically reduce its electricity supply to Gaza, which was already reeling from lack of adequate access to electricity and fuel.

Other policies implemented by the PA in recent weeks, including allegedly halting medical referrals to patients in Gaza to receive medical treatment outside of the territory and cutting its funding to the medical sector in the besieged enclave, which has seen the typical $4 million monthly budget of Gaza’s health ministry plummet to just $500,000, have also greatly exacerbated the dire situation of residents in Gaza.

The PA also decided last month to block 11 Palestinian news websites -- all allegedly affiliated with either the Hamas movement or Muhammad Dahlan, a political rival of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, which has been condemned by rights groups as a "serious violation of freedom of the press and expression."

Both the PA and Hamas have accused the other of leading politically-motivated arrests on their members in Gaza and the West Bank, while the PA has condemned Hamas' rule in the Gaza Strip, which it has said allows Hamas to collect taxes and run the government while the PA provides millions of dollars in infrastructure projects and electricity provisions.

The UN has warned that Gaza, which marked its 10th year under an Israeli-enforced blockade last month, could become uninhabitable for residents by 2020, pointing to the devastation of war and the effects of Israel's longstanding blockade.

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