Hamas blames Palestinian Authority for Gaza violence

Hamas security forces stand guard at the entrance of the cabinet headquarters of Gaza's Hamas rulers on December 30, 2014, in Gaza City before a meeting of Palestinian unity government officials (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - The Hamas-held interior ministry in the Gaza Strip on Saturday accused security forces reporting to the rival Palestinian Authority of being behind a wave of violence in the coastal enclave.

Spokesman Iyad al-Bozum accused "members of the former security establishment in Gaza" of "exploiting the difficult conditions, especially since the last war, to spread chaos and confusion with explosions, car burnings and shootings".

The war to which he referred was last summer's conflict with Israel.

Palestinian Authority security forces were ousted from Gaza in 2007 by fighters from the Islamist Hamas movement's armed wing.

Bozum did not elaborate, but explosions have targeted vehicles used by Hamas in recent months, as well as some owned by members of PA president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah party.

He told a news conference investigations had shown the incidents were "the result of plans by security chiefs in Ramallah", headquarters of the PA in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Bozum said they were aimed at "spreading chaos in Gaza in order to cover up the government's failure and absolve him (Abbas) from any responsibility".

Since last spring, when Hamas signed a reconciliation deal with the PA, it has accused the government of independents created under the agreement of abandoning Gaza.

In return, the PA accuses Hamas of raising obstacles to the work of the government in the enclave, where it is reluctant to transfer power.

Relations between Fatah and Hamas have been further strained since November, when a series of blasts targeted the homes of a dozen Fatah officials in Gaza, causing damage but no casualties.

Bozum told reporters several suspects have been arrested and played recordings he said were of them, their voices distorted and images blurred.

Bozum said they were members of the PA security services in Gaza before 2007 claiming to have carried out the attacks after receiving orders from Ramallah.

WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency, issued a statement from Fatah rejecting the accusation.

It reported Fatah spokesman Usama al-Qawasmi as dismissing "Hamas lies that nobody believes because everyone knows it imposes its will by force".

Qawasmi accused Hamas itself of "being behind explosions and car burnings".