January 5, 2019 / 4:40 PM / 18 days ago

Hamas arrests Gaza men suspected of attacking Abbas's TV station

Palestinians inspect the damage inside the office of Palestine TV, in Gaza City January 4, 2019. REUTERS/Ahmed Zakot

GAZA (Reuters) - Gaza authorities arrested five Palestinians on Saturday on suspicion of ransacking the offices of President Mahmoud Abbas’s official Palestine Television station, Hamas’s interior ministry said.

On Friday, assailants destroyed cameras, editing and broadcasting equipment in the Gaza office of the station, part of the Palestinian Broadcast Corporation (PBC), which broadcasts material supportive of Abbas. Station officials immediately blamed Hamas for the attack.

The incident underscored tensions between Abbas’s Western-backed Palestinian Authority, based in the occupied West Bank, and Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza.

But Hamas on Saturday said all five suspects men were former employees of the Palestinian Authority, whose salaries were recently suspended. There was no immediate response from the Palestinian Authority.

There has long been antipathy between Hamas, which won the last Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 and is opposed to any peace negotiations with Israel, and with Abbas’s more moderate and secular Fatah faction.

The two rivals have tried and failed to end the divisions. Egypt has brokered a Palestinian reconciliation pact that provides for Hamas to cede control of Gaza to Abbas, but a dispute over power-sharing has hindered implementation.

Writing by Nidal Almughrabi; editing by David Evans

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