The death of Hamas activist Majed Barghouti is throwing fuel onto the fire in relations between the Islamic group and the Palestinian Authority. The 44-year-old preacher died on Friday after a week in a PA prison in Ramallah.
The deceased's relatives as well as fellow Hamas members said on Saturday that medical personnel who viewed the body reported signs of abuse.
Despite autopsy reports that show that Barghouti died from a heart attack, Hamas is claiming that his death is proof that Palestinian Authority prisons have become "worse than Israeli occupation prisons with regards to prisoners' rights."
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said that PA security forces are carrying out a "factional cleansing": (Palestinian President Mahmoud) Abbas' gangs are conducting crimes against Hamas leaders and members through arrests, torture and the closing of welfare and charity organizations. This is all part of factional cleansing that is propped by the occupation in order to eliminate the Hamas movement.
"These crimes are carried out hand-in-hand with Israeli coordination and the visits of American generals that arrive to the West Bank in order to see and make sure that the Fayyad government is carrying out the plan to eliminate Hamas and eliminate all that believe in the resistance," Barhum added.
The Hamas movement received some support from a report by one of the main human rights organizations in the Palestinian Territories, A-Damir – a group that specializes in defending the rights of prisoners. The organization noted that it appears that Barghouti was tortured in a Palestinian intelligence service base and added that the PA group refuse to allow Barghouti to continue medical treatment at a hospital in spite of doctors' recommendations.
Hamas also called for the Palestinian Authority to release the dozens of prisoners currently jailed in PA installations who they claim are being tortured.
Barghouti was among hundreds of Hamas activists to be detained by Abbas' security forces in the West Bank following the violent Hamas takeover of Gaza in June. Dozens are currently in custody. In many cases, Hamas activists are released after telling investigators about hidden weapons.
Barghouti, a father of eight, was a mosque preacher in the West Bank village of Kobar, and spent several years in Israeli prisons.