Saturday, June 23, 2007

Israel, Fatah crack down on Hamas

Contributed by Lucia

"RAMALLAH, West Bank - In a widening crackdown on Hamas, Israel arrested the founder of the group's military wing Saturday and moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pushed forward with a plan to cut off cash to the Islamic militants......

Abbas on Friday ordered all non-governmental groups, including those allied with Hamas, to get new operating licenses. They now have a week to comply. A senior Palestinian official confirmed Saturday that Hamas-allied groups are the target of the review.

Heads of NGOs warned that Abbas' decree may be difficult to enforce since Hamas' social network provides vital services in an increasingly impoverished society, often stepping in where the cash-strapped government fails to deliver.......

Before dawn Saturday, Israeli troops arrested the founder of the Hamas military wing in the West Bank, Saleh Aruri, prompting allegations by the militant group that Israeli and Palestinian security forces are coordinating their moves in the crackdown.

Aruri had been released in March after serving 15 years in an Israeli prison.......

However, Amjad al-Shawwa, coordinator of the Palestinian NGO Network, said it will be difficult to shut down badly needed charities.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, 60-year-old Aishe Moussa on Saturday picked up her monthly $50 from a local Islamic welfare office. She said that with one son dead and three in an Israeli prison, she couldn't feed her grandchildren without the assistance. "If they close this place, it means we will face hunger and humiliation," she said.

Nidal Shabana, head of one of the biggest welfare associations in Gaza, al-Mujamma al-Islami, noted his group provides for 5,000 orphans and runs two clinics, 16 kindergartens and two schools.

"We are shocked by the decree of the president," he said. "We are associations that provide humanitarian assistance to all people."......."

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