A senior Hamas politician has accused forces loyal to the Palestinian president of attempting to carry out a coup. Fatah gunmen took over two government ministries run by Hamas, while trying to secure an area around the home of president Mahmoud Abbas.
Their crackdown followed a raid on a training base for Abbas’s elite presidential guard, killing a member of the force. Foreign minister and Hamas deputy, Mahmoud al-Zahar, threatened a strong response to the violence. “A reliable source has told us Fatah called Al Jazeera television and threatened to kill one of its representatives if we ran stories on the takeover of the ministries,” the minister said. “What’s happening here is a military coup. Assassinations and takeovers will be met with strong, legal measures,” he added.
The minister’s threat was met in its turn with a show of force from Fatah. Thousands of the movement’s supporters brandished weapons and chanted slogans as they rallied in the West Bank town of Jenin. The renewed violence follows a call for early elections by president Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday.