Hamas to free Fatah prisoners after Gaza flareup

AFP , Sunday 25 Nov 2012

Hamas government spokesman says the Islamist movement will release all Fatah prisoners in Gaza arrested in the aftermath of the 2006 internal division

Meshaal & Abbas
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (L) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas talk with an official during a meeting in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)

Gaza's ruling Hamas movement is to release all prisoners from the rival Fatah movement detained in connection with the political dispute between them, a spokesman said on Sunday.

"The Hamas government has decided to pardon all cases against Fatah members which are related to the internal division since 2006," Hamas government spokesman Taher al-Nunu said at a press conference in Gaza City. 

He said the government had decided to set up a committee "to implement this decision and establish a new stage of reconciliation." Interior ministry spokesman Islam Shahwan said there were 22 Fatah members in jail in Gaza.

The move comes three days after Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas telephoned Gaza's Hamas premier Ismail Haniya to congratulate him "on his victory and (offer) condolences for the martyrs."

The conversation between the two rival Palestinian leaders came after an Egyptian-brokered truce with Israel ended on Wednesday eight days of fighting in and around Gaza, in which 166 Palestinians and six Israelis died.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights welcomed the decision, and in a statement said it hoped the move "will push forward the process of the Palestinian reconciliation talks, and that it will mark the end of the division, which has been ongoing for 6 years."

Tensions between Hamas and Fatah have been high since 2006, when the Islamist movement won the legislative elections in Gaza. Hamas seized power the following year, ending a power-sharing deal with the secular Fatah party of president Mahmud Abbas.

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