PA Security Forces (file)
PA Security Forces (file)Flash 90

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has been cracking down on Hamas supporters within its borders, Palestinian Media Watch reported on Thursday, and state media has been mum over the wave of arrests. 

The crackdown began after Fatah's defeat in student elections at Birzeit University earlier this month. 

"Sources within the Hamas movement said that the Palestinian [Authority] security forces launched a massive wave of arrests among the ranks of the Islamic Bloc activists in several West Bank universities," independent Palestinian daily Wattan said on Tuesday.

"The sources stated that the [PA] Preventive Security Force and the Intelligence Service took part in a wave [of arrests] that targeted the Islamic Bloc activists in Birzeit University and in Palestine Polytechnic University, as well as students from An-Najah University in Nablus and Al-Quds University in Abu Dis."

Local Hamas leaders said that the move showed Fatah's opposition to freedom of expression. 

Ma'an noted in the wake of the arrests that the university elections are viewed as an indicator of public opinion, as the PA has not held official elections for years - even though Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's term expired in January 2009.

This is not the first arrest made since the student vote. PA government worker Khalil Ali Afaneh was arrested last week for claiming Fatah's ideological leader and arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat was "not a martyr" in a Facebook comment on his niece's post about the vote. 

The unrest follows growing tensions between Hamas and Fatah, most recently a series of assassination attempts and bombings targeting Fatah and Hamas officials both in Gaza as well as Judea and Samaria, in what appears to be a growing resurgence of violent conflict between the two factions.