Two paintings worth $66,000 were presented as a gift to a woman in Paris by the PA, which also paid millions of dollars to cover the personal expenses of senior Fatah officials and their families, according to documents released by Hamas on Tuesday.
The documents, which were seized by Hamas at various PA institutions in the Gaza Strip in mid-June, were presented to the Palestinian public by top Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar during a press conference in Gaza City.
The 30 documents that were released Tuesday are related to the period when Yasser Arafat was chairman of the PA, between 1994 and 2004.
Fatah officials in Ramallah reacted with fury to the revelations, accusing Hamas of seeking to mislead the Palestinians through lies and forgery. But Palestinian journalist who examined the documents said they all appeared to be authentic and that there was no reason to doubt their credibility.
One of the documents showed that Arafat had approved the payment of some $30,000 to cover university tuition fees in London for the daughters of his media adviser. Another one revealed that Arafat had approved an annual payment of $9,000 to cover the university tuition of the son of another senior official who was studying in Germany.
The documents also showed that the PA had invested international funds in various economic projects, especially in Lebanon. In one case, a senior Fatah official living in Lebanon was given hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase houses and luxurious vehicles. He also received $40,000 to pay for his son's wedding and another $130,000 as compensation for damages caused to his daughter's car.
Zahar also presented documents that showed that the Fatah-controlled PA security forces had been involved in commercial activities and in tax-collection, in violation of PA laws.
He said some of the activities were carried out when current PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad served as finance minister under Arafat.
Fahmi Za'areer, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, called on Hamas to inform the Palestinians about the fate of millions of dollars that the Islamist movement received from Iran and Qatar over the past two years.
Meanwhile, Ihab al-Ghissin, a top official at the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in the Gaza Strip, announced that his movement was planning to establish a new intelligence service in the coming weeks.
"The new force will be called the Internal Security Apparatus and it will replace the Preventive Security Force that has been dismantled in the Gaza Strip," he said.
He said members of the former Fatah-controlled security forces in the Gaza Strip would be permitted to join the new service.
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