Hamas Releases Fatah Prisoners from Gaza Prisons

Hamas-run Gaza government releases six prisoners affiliated with Fatah movement, part of the unity pact between the sides.

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Elad Benari,

Hamas police in Gaza
Hamas police in Gaza
Flash 90

The Hamas-run Gaza government released six prisoners affiliated with the Fatah movement on Monday, an official said, according to the Ma’an news agency.

Iyad al-Bazim, spokesman for the Gaza Interior Ministry, told Ma'an that the prisoners had received a pardon from Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh as part of the April 23 PLO-Hamas unity deal.

The six were convicted of various felonies, al-Bazim said, without elaborating.

They were identified as Alaa Majid Siyam, Sami Jabr al-Nakhala, Mahmoud Kamal al-Buheisi, Muhammad Shehda Abu Omra, Abd al-Aziz Nayif al-Sharafi, and Abd al-rahman Khaddoura.

As part of the Hamas-Fatah deal, Abbas will issue a "presidential decree" announcing the dates for elections, which PA officials said would likely take place within the next six months. The PA’s Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has already offered to step down to pave the way for a unity government

The unity government is supposed to be made up of independent figures, but a senior Hamas figure said this week that the group’s leadership decided to submit a candidate for the presidency.

The sides have been at odds since 2007, when Hamas took control of Gaza in a bloody coup and started cracking down on Fatah officials living in the territory.

The groups have made failed attempts at national reconciliation for years, most recently in 2012, when they signed two agreements -- one in Cairo and a subsequent one in Doha -- which have as of yet been unimplemented.

On Monday, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas held "positive" talks with Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal in Doha, in the first meeting since the deal was signed. 

Hamas continues to be adamant over its control of a "unity" government, expressing over and over again that it would remain in control of both Gaza and the PA after elections and insisting that Ismail Haniyeh would rule the government.