Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, addressing his people on TV Wednesday, harshly criticized the Islamic Hamas for attacking "national symbols" during its takeover of Gaza last week, referring to them as "murderous terrorists."
In an uncharacteristically fiery speech, Abbas said Hamas replaced the "national project" with "its project of darkness," attacking the symbols of government in Gaza, including the house of the late leader Yasser Arafat.
Abbas declared, "there is no dialogue with those murderous terrorists," and accused them of attempting a coup.
It was Abbas' toughest speech since he fired the Hamas-led Cabinet and replaced it with his own team of Fatah supporters and experts over the weekend.
Abbas accused Hamas of trying to set up its own state in Gaza alone, a step he said would scuttle Palestinian hopes for independence. He said he had tried to prevent the conflict through "continuous dialogue." Instead, "we are seeing assassination of leaders of Palestinian security and Fatah in Gaza."
Last week, in a lightning military-style operation, Hamas militias routed the numerically superior Fatah security forces and took over their bases in Gaza, leaving Abbas' Fatah in control of the West Bank only.
Abbas said the conflict continues. "It's a fight between the national project and this small kingdom they want to establish in Gaza, the kingdom of Gaza, between those who are using assassination and killing to achieve their goals, and those who are using the rules of law."
Abbas accused Hamas of trying to assassinate him when he planned a visit to Gaza a month ago, digging a tunnel under a road where his car was to pass and trying to fill it with 250 kilograms of explosives.
He said he received videotapes of the operation, showing gunmen with Hamas signs on their shirts carrying out the work. He dismissed Hamas claims that the explosives tunnel was aimed at Israelis.
"I have sent these tapes to all the Arab countries, to show how much this dark movement is acting," he said.
He repeated his earlier declaration that the Hamas militia in Gaza is now illegal and warned Israel not to take advantage of the Gaza situation to tighten its control of the West Bank.
"The coup seekers through their madness have given a golden opportunity to those who want to separate Gaza from the West Bank," he said.