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Hamas warns off Fatah in West Bank

June 21, 2007 at 8:50 AM

GAZA, June 21 (UPI) -- A prominent Hamas leader in Gaza said rival Fatah militants can expect a fight if they continue attacking Hamas facilities in the West Bank.

In an interview with The New York Times, Mahmoud Zahar, the former Palestinian foreign minister, said Hamas was prepared to rout Fatah in the West Bank as it did in recent weeks in Gaza.

"If they continue to dismantle the local elections in the West Bank and punish Hamas there, the United States and Israel will face another surprise there," Zahar said.

As factional fighting in Gaza was winding down, Fatah militants attacked and burned Hamas facilities in the West Bank and arrested elected Hamas officials, the report said.

The region is in political chaos, as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the Hamas-led unity government and named a new emergency Cabinet. However, its powers must be renewed by an act of the legislature and Hamas lacks a quorum as Israel has detained about one-third of its members because they belong to Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization.

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