HAMAS THREATENS ARAFAT GOVERNMENT
By Mariam Sami
JERUSALEM (AP - 11/1) -- In a potentially serious blow to the fledgling peace accords,
Hamas' military wing on Sunday made its first direct threat against the government of
Yasser Arafat, accusing the Palestinian leader of treason.
All-out conflict between Arafat's government and the radical Islamic group could make
it extremely difficult to move ahead with the implementation of the Israeli-Palestinian
land-for-security agreement signed Oct. 23 in Washington.
The threat comes three days after Arafat put Hamas' spiritual leader, Sheik Ahmed
Yassin, under house arrest, and as the Palestinians were said to be hunting a top Hamas
``There is no doubt that Arafat and his repressive security apparatus have reached the
point of treason,'' said the leaflet signed by the Hamas military arm, the Izzedine al
Qassem brigades, and faxed to news organizations. ``The beginning of infighting has
appeared, and no one can put out its fire.''
In the leaflet, Hamas appealed to Arafat to halt an ongoing crackdown against ``our
sons and fighters'' in order to spare Palestinians ``the horrors ... of civil war.''
The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it would not comment on the threat
until its authenticity could be verified. However, the ornate language, style and phrasing
were similar to past communications from Hamas' military wing.
A senior Palestinian security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also
refused immediate comment.
Just last week, Yassin said Hamas did not want a bloody confrontation with the
But that was before Arafat put Yassin under house arrest following a Hamas claim of
responsibility for a failed suicide bombing on Thursday aimed at Jewish settler children
in the Gaza Strip.
None of the children were hurt, but an Israeli soldier was killed when the military
jeep he was riding in intercepted the explosives-rigged car.
In the leaflet, Hamas claimed the jeep, not the school bus, was its real target. ``We
would never target children or the elderly,'' it said.
Up until now, Hamas has insisted that its quarrel is only with Israel, with which it
rejects any peace. However, it has reacted with increasing stridency to provisions in the
Oct. 23 peace accord signed in Washington that call for a concerted move against Islamic
militants by Arafat's government.
Arafat launched the wide-ranging crackdown against Hamas even before Thursday's attack.
In recent days, more than 100 Hamas activists have been rounded up.
Also Sunday, Hamas officials in Jordan said the Jordanian government had ordered Hamas
supporters to stop talking to the media, cutting off a major platform for criticizing
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the government asked them to
stop making statements to reporters shortly after the peace agreement was signed.
Israel has demanded the dismantling of Hamas' military wing and also the arrest of
Mohammed Deif, one of its leaders. Deif, who is blamed for several terror attacks, has
been in hiding in Gaza for three years.
The Gaza Strip's head of security, Abdel Razak Majaydeh, said the Palestinian Authority
was working to apprehend Deif, Israel Radio reported.
``Anyone who allows himself to plan or conspire against the hero Deif or any of our
holy warriors will pay a dear price,'' the leaflet said. ``There is no room for
self-control or silence any more.''
Earlier Sunday, before the leaflet appeared, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat
said he hoped there would not be an open clash with Hamas.
``I hope not,'' he said. ``I hope all of the 26 Palestinian parties understand that
everyone is allowed to work within the rule of law. If they oppose (the agreement), that's
their business, but they can't do it violently and cross the red line.''
Not everyone in Arafat's government has supported the crackdown. Communications
Minister Imad Falouji, a former member of Hamas, told reporters Saturday he opposed the
crackdown and would visit Yassin at home.