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Israel barring Fatah members from leaving Gaza: Fatah spokesman



The Israeli regime is barring as many as 130 Gaza-based members of the Palestinian faction of Fatah from leaving the strip to join a congress of the Palestinian faction in the occupied West Bank, a Fatah spokesman says.

Fatah’s General Conference was due to open in Ramallah on Tuesday, gathering 1,400 delegates. The event is only the seventh one to convene since 1959, when the movement was established, and the last one had been held in Bethlehem in 2009.

“Around 1,200 members have arrived in Ramallah,” said Fatah spokesman Mahmoud Abu al-Hija. Of the 380 Fatah members supposed to arrive from Gaza, 250 have arrived, he said, adding that the congress will convene anyway.

Israel has blockaded the Gaza Strip since 2007 and generally maintains stringent control over entry into and exit from the coastal Palestinian sliver, citing “security” concerns. Abu al-Hija, however, did not offer a specific explanation on the blockage against the Fatah delegates from Gaza.

Last week, Ziad Khalil Abu Zayyad, another party spokesman, said the attendees at the congress have been so chosen as to be representative of the Palestinian population both in Gaza and the occupied territories.

“Representatives of the youth, the different cities of the West Bank and Gaza, the popular resistance and civil society organizations were all included,” he said.

Some observers say Israel is trying to prevent the inclusion of the representatives of Gaza in the Palestinian political arena.

Israel has also been suppressing the Gaza-based Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas, which has been ruling Gaza. The Tel Aviv regime has launched several devastating wars on Gaza as well.

Explaining the nature of the Fatah congress, Abu Zayyad also said delegates “will discuss Palestinian relations with Israel, the role of the youth in the movement, relations with some Arab countries, the assignment of a deputy… within Fatah and the evaluation of the popular resistance and what can be done to empower it.”

The seventh congress of Fatah will last for at least five days.

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