The row over a Fatah delegation that said it was denied entry to Gaza continued Saturday as Hamas said delegate Sakher Bseso may face prosecution for blasphemy.
Four Fatah officials tried to enter the Gaza Strip on Friday for reconciliation talks, but said they were refused entry by Hamas border guards. The group said they waited for 45 minutes at the Erez crossing before giving up and returning to the West Bank.
The Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza swiftly responded that the delegation only waited for 10 minutes at the border, and refused to wait any longer for border guards to call their supervisors to arrange the group’s entry.
The ministry said Fatah delegate Sakher Bseso “cursed God” and insulted the officers. On Saturday it announced that “certain officials” had started legal proceedings against Bseso for blasphemy.
“Bseso should be ready to stand in a court and be judged,” the ministry said in a statement.
Bseso told Ma’an he did not curse God and reiterated that the delegation was visiting Gaza for talks to implement the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah.
Fatah spokesman Ahmad Assaf insisted Friday that the delegation was refused entry to Gaza and accused Hamas leaders of holding the strip hostage. Some Hamas leaders are not interested in reconciliation, Assaf said in a statement.
Ismael al-Ashqar, a Hamas member of the reconciliation committee, told Ma’an on Saturday that the incident at the Erez crossing was a “technical mistake,” adding that Fatah officials were welcome in Gaza.
Senior Hamas official Salah al-Bardawil also chimed in, issuing a statement accusing the Fatah officials of behaving “arrogantly” toward border guards and deliberately sabotaging the trip.
“Why wouldn’t Fatah officials undertake the coordination along with their brothers of the legal leadership which was elected by the Palestinian people?” al-Bardawil asked.
He concluded: “The situation was exaggerated which showed the Fatah officials’ intentions of escaping the reconciliation meetings.”
Hamas, meanwhile, is committed to reconciliation with Fatah, al-Bardawil said.
He called on Fatah to release prisoners detained in the West Bank for their affiliation to Hamas and urged the party to stop coordinating with Israel.