Israel sends Gazan Fatah members to West Bank

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Israel sends Gazan Fatah members to West Bank

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Israel has bussed nearly 90 members of a pro-Fatah Palestinian clan to the West Bank two days after they fled deadly clashes with rival Palestinian group Hamas in Gaza.

Originally, all 181 members of the Helles clan were to be sent back to Hamas-controlled Gaza after seeking refuge in Israel.

However Hamas started arresting some of the men as they returned to the Gaza Strip.

It was then that Israel decided instead to send the remaining Helles family members to the relative safety of the Fatah stronghold of Jericho in the West Bank.

Meanwhile, in what it says is a “goodwill gesture,” Hamas has released the top Fatah representative in Gaza, Zakaria al-Agha.

Agha said he was treated properly during his four-day detention: “The treatment was fair. They told us that we are political prisoners. Accordingly their treatment was not bad, but good,” he told reporters.

Rising tensions between the two rival Palestinian groups came to a head on July 25, when a bomb killed five Hamas members and a girl in Gaza.

It triggered the Hamas crackdown on the Helles clan in Gaza and clashes that left 11 people dead and wounded more than 90 others.

The bombing also led to tit-for-tat arrests of Hamas members in the West Bank and Gaza-based Fatah followers loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.