Abbas: Hamas unsettling stability in West Bank
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday accused the Islamic Hamas movement for trying to unsettle stability in the West Bank which his Fatah movement controls.
Abbas warned in a statement published by the state-run news agency Wafa that his Palestinian security apparatuses "would strike with an iron hand on anyone who tries to unsettle stability in the West Bank."
Abbas' statement was made after three of his security officers were killed early Sunday in armed clashes with two Hamas militants, who were also killed, in addition to a third civilian that hosted the two gunmen into his house in the West Bank.
Hamas denied the claims of a security forces spokesman in the West Bank that the two gunmen are the ones who initiated the gun battle by opening fire at a security force in the city of Qalqilya.
However, witnesses said that one Hamas militant opened fire at a security force in the city, and escaped into a house, where another militant was there. A gunbattle erupted in the area for nine hours, and ended up with six people killed.
"Our security forces are carrying out its duties day and night in order to achieve settlement, calm and security in the West Bank. They are chasing those who are violating the law," said Abbas.
Thousands of Hamas supporters demonstrated in the Gaza Strip against the incident. Hamas leaders and militants held Abbas and his security forces completely responsible for what happened.
Abbas called on the Palestinian people "to stand united behind the legitimate leadership of the Palestinian people," adding "We will strike by an iron hand against all those who are trying to unsettle the situation in the West Bank."
The Gaza Strip has been under Hamas control since it took it over by force in June 2007. Hamas routed Abbas security forces and now refuses to share power in Gaza unless Abbas accepts to share power in the West Bank.