EXTRA: Palestinian Authority blames Gaza violence on Hamas
( dpa ) - The Palestinian government in the West Bank on Saturday blamed the Islamic movement Hamas for the Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
"The party which staged a coup against the Palestinian Authority (PA) and now rules Gaza is responsible for the condition of the Strip and the suffering of the Palestinian people there," said Information Minister Riyadh al-Maliki, referring to Hamas' takeover of Gaza by force in June.
Israel closed Gaza Strip crossings and launched an aerial and ground offensive Tuesday in response to Hamas' resumption of rocket attacks against Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip. 37 Palestinians have been killed so far.
"Hamas is responsible for the Israeli madness and the massacres the (Israeli) army carries out everyday against our people in Gaza Strip," al-Maliki said, adding that Israel also bear responsibility for the loss of life in the Strip.
Hamas, for its part, accused the United States of encouraging Israel to continue its military operations in Gaza Strip.
"The US administration is engaged in committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoom, referring to US State Department spokesman who described the Israeli offensive as a legitimate self-defence.