Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday said that Al-Qaida militants have infiltrated the Gaza Strip and are receiving assistance from Hamas in establishing a base of operations in the Strip.
“An alliance has formed between these two organizations,” Abbas told the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat on Wednesday.
Abbas leveled harsh criticism at Hamas in the interview, calling the group “a dark organization that wants to establish its own fiefdom in the Gaza Strip, without any concern for the national aspirations of the Palestinian people, aspirations which are threatened by their actions.”
Abbas repeated his call for Hamas to renew ties with Fatah, saying that if the group loosened their grip on the Gaza Strip new elections for the Palestinian presidency and parliament could take place.
Abbas said the current situation in Gaza does not lend itself to Fatah-Hamas talks, and added that he has no contact with Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khaled Mashaal.
Military Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin on Tuesday said that Al-Qaida operatives managed to slip into the Gaza Strip after the Gaza-Egypt border was breached in January by explosives planted by Hamas militants.
According to Yadlin, many of the operatives underwent training in Syria and Iran and include snipers and explosives and engineering experts.
Last December, Al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden released a tape in which he warned the group would widen its operations in “occupied Palestine” with the goal of “liberating all of Palestine from the river to the sea.”
Bin Laden said the group would make sure that “not a single Jew is left in Palestine” and would never recognize “even one inch of Jewish land, something that other Muslim leaders accepted.”
Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip last year after routing forces loyal to the secular Abbas, has been criticized by al-Qaida’s number second in command, Ayman al-Zawahri, who had accused it of serving U.S. interests.
The Army of Islam, a shadowy clan-based group which held BBC journalist Alan Johnston for 114 days, is believed to be inspired by al-Qaida but there are no known direct links between them.