Fatah officials call for Mahmoud Abbas to resign
Fatah officials and activists in the West Bank on Wednesday called on Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to resign, holding him responsible for the fact that Hamas was now in control of most parts of the Gaza Strip.
The calls for Abbas's resignation came as Hamas militiamen scored more victories in their battle to take control over the Gaza Strip. More than 30 Palestinians were killed in Wednesday's fighting, which also spread to some parts of the West Bank.
Fatah officials here confirmed that Hamas had seized large amounts of weapons and military equipment belonging to Abbas's security forces in the Gaza Strip. Some of the weapons were supplied to the PA in recent weeks by Egypt and Jordan as part of a US security plan to boost Fatah-controlled forces.
Hamas said it had seized thousands of M-16 and Kalashnikov rifles and pistols, communication equipment, armored vehicles, trucks, binoculars, military outfits, tents, sleeping bags, hand grenades, mortars and documents.
At a stormy meeting of Fatah leaders here, Abbas came under severe criticism for failing to issue clear orders to the PA security forces and Fatah militias in the Gaza Strip to launch counterattacks on Hamas.
Furious Fatah leaders demanded that Abbas declare a state of emergency and call early elections. They also expressed dismay with the way Abbas was handling the current crisis.
"Hamas is slaughtering our sons in the Gaza Strip and the only thing our president is doing is appealing for a cease-fire," said one Fatah leader.
"We have at least 40,000 police officers and militiamen in the Gaza Strip. What's preventing them from launching a massive attack on Hamas? Does the president want to see the Gaza Strip fall into the hands of Hamas?"
Another top Fatah official called on Abbas to step down. "The president must resign," he said. "Unless he takes real measures to halt the Hamas offensive, President Abbas will face a revolt by Fatah."
Sources close to Hamas told the Post that the Popular Resistance Committees, an alliance of various armed groups, had joined Hamas in the fight against the PA security forces and Fatah militiamen.
The sources also claimed that dozens of PA policemen had surrendered and handed over their weapons to Hamas in the past 24 hours.
General Musbah Buhaisi, commander of Abbas's Presidential Guard in the Gaza Strip, was said to have fled to the West Bank following death threats by Hamas.
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