Hamas to declare independence in Gaza?

Monday, August 20, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

The Hamas terrorist organization is planning to declare the Gaza Strip an independent entity under its control, the Israeli online news agency Omedia reported last week.

Omedia was quoting senior Gaza-based Hamas leader Yehiya Mussa, who had earlier told a Lebanese newspaper that if Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas calls early parliamentary elections, Hamas will declare independence in Gaza.

Analysts said the threat appeared to be little more than an effort to pressure Abbas, but admitted that such a declaration of independence could become a reality if Abbas holds early elections in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), and especially if he bans Hamas from participating.

Hamas scored a landslide victory in last year's parliamentary election, seizing outright control of the Palestinian Legislative Council. When the official Palestinian Authority security forces loyal to Abbas failed to submit to the new Hamas government, the terror group set up its own force in Gaza that ended up conquering the volatile coastal strip in June.

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