Hamas says its supporters are being rounded up by the PA
Hamas says its supporters are being rounded up by the PAIssam Rimawi/Flash 90

Hamas alleged Tuesday that more than 200 of its members had been arrested by the Palestinian Authority recently, with most of them tortured, threatening to widen a rift between the two Palestinian factions.

This was the latest sign of failed reconciliation efforts between Hamas, the Islamist terrorist movement that rules the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian Authority, which administers Areas A and B in Judea and Samaria, despite a unity deal signed last year.

"Hamas members in the occupied West Bank are being submitted to their worst campaign of arrests - their biggest and longest," Hamas official Abdurahman Shadid told journalists.

He said more than 200 had been arrested since July 2 Judea and Samaria and "most have been severely tortured."  

The Palestinian Authority had not immediately responded to the claims, though one of its officials said last week about 100 Hamas members had been arrested.

On Friday, a Palestinian Authority officials said about 100 Hamas members had been arrested over alleged plans to attack the PA.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called the allegations "cover for political arrests."

Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas was "entirely responsible for these maniacal arrests and the Hamas eradication project to the benefit of the occupier (Israel)," said Shadid.

He spoke of "limits to the people's patience."  

A PA unity agreement signed in April 2014 sought to end years of bad blood between Fatah, Abbas's party, and Hamas.

A unity government of technocrats was formed as a result, approved by both sides. But it has been ineffective and essentially barred from operating in Gaza, leaving Hamas in charge of the coastal enclave.

In recent days, and following conflicting reports of the cabinet's resignation, Abbas has sought to reconstitute the unity government, which has further heightened tensions.

The Palestinian Authority also cooperates with Israel on security matters, and Hamas accused it of acting on the Jewish state's behalf.

Israeli authorities have recently been under pressure to act after a series of deadly gun and knife attacks against Israelis, both soldiers and civilians, but there was no indication the arrests were linked.  

Most of those attacks are believed to have been carried out by lone-wolf assailants, but a recent string of deadly attacks in the Binyamin region north of Jerusalem - including the murders of Danny Gonen and Malachi Rosenfeld, as well as an attack on an Israeli ambulance - are believed to be the work of an organized terrorist cell.