Tensions between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas have escalated in recent weeks, against the backdrop of the PA leadership's December 2018 decision to disband the Palestinian Legislative Council that has been controlled by Hamas since 2006, and the PA's and Fatah's preparations for assembling a new Palestinian government in the near future with PLO factions but without Hamas. Fatah Central Committee member 'Azzam Al-Ahmad even stated that this government's main aim was likely to be bringing down Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily reported that Hamas is planning to revive the Administrative Committee in the Gaza Strip, to operate as a parallel government headed by Hamas with the participation of the factions that will refuse to join the new Fatah-led PA government. The escalation and the polarization between the sides also caused the February 10-12, 2019 Moscow talks with the Palestinian factions – which included an attempt by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to encourage the Egypt-brokered intra-Palestinian reconciliation, to conclude with no agreement on a joint statement but plenty of mutual recriminations. The escalation was manifested also in action on the ground: About a week ago, it was reported that Hamas activists had taken over the Kerem Shalom crossing and expelled PA officials from there.
As a result of this escalation of tensions, the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida published a number of articles harshly critical of Hamas. The articles depict Hamas as a tumor that threatens the Palestinian national project and therefore must be removed, and also as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and as promoting an agenda inimical to Arab, and particularly Palestinian, nationalism; they also likened Hamas to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS). Other articles accused the Hamas leaders of endangering the lives of Palestinian children and cynically exploiting their blood for media purposes in order to promote their agenda.
The following are translated excerpts from several of these articles:
Columnist For PA Daily: Hamas Is A Tumor Threatening The Palestinian Project And Must Be Removed
In Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, columnist Sultan Al-Hattab described the efforts to form a new PA government as "an operation to remove the Hamas tumor from the Palestinian body." He wrote: "The idea to establish Hamas was first and foremost an attempt to harm the [Palestinian] national project, to present an alternative to it and to destroy it. To that end, Hamas adopted means of resistance which tarnished the image of the [Palestinian National] project, such as killing civilians and bombing marketplaces and buses. This created a distorted image of the Palestinians that took root in the global consciousness, and President 'Abbas is still working to erase it and to present in its place a clean image of non-violent resistance that the world accepts, approves of, and defends, and which enjoys consensus among the Palestinian people...
"Hamas wanted to take over the Palestinian national project so as to kill it and to insinuate in its place another project that is not a national one. It also promoted the [intra-Palestinian] schism so as to destroy this project. Its central mission was and still is to prevent the development and improvement of the national project, and to prevent the establishment of its institutions, mechanisms and pillars of support... Hamas began striving to deepen the rift, while transforming the people of Gaza into human shields...
"Today Hamas continues to oppose the national project, and that is why it opposes [parliamentary] elections and reconciliation and adheres to the schism. It justifies its relationship with the occupation by citing [the need] to bring in the Qatari money via [Israel's] Ben Gurion Airport. It arrests every resistance fighter in Gaza who embarrasses the government and its administrative committees, holds secret talks [with Israel] and agrees to [the establishment of a [Palestinian] state with temporary [borders]... The legitimate Palestinian leadership realizes that Hamas opposes the Palestinian [national] project just as much as it opposes Israel... and therefore decided to perform surgery to excise the tumor [i.e. Hamas] that threatens the national project by calling for a government comprising only the factions of the PLO... This operation to remove the Hamas tumor from the national project is the only way to preserve this project's national Palestinian identity and its ability to implement the Palestinian decisions and defend the [national] cause of the Palestinian people in light of the occupation's efforts to wipe out the [Palestinian] identity...
"The Hamas coup [regime] drained the Palestinian capabilities and the PA budget, half of which went to Gaza but was not wholly transferred to the citizens of the Strip. The PA paid the cost of [Gaza's] water, electricity, fuel and salaries, yet the Hamas gang... [nevertheless] charged needy families for water, electricity and services and put [the money] in its pockets and the pockets of its supporters and their families. Hamas [members] became a social sector that lives differently from the rest of the Gazans...
"Our people are aware of what has happened, and one day it will settle the score with this gang, which has kidnapped Gaza and its people. We are not calling on our enemy [Israel] to do this. We are calling on our own people to remove this gang which sees a need to destroy our national project and meets with the architects of the Deal of the Century [to discuss] this matter and serves them..."
Columnist And Fatah Member: Like Al-Qaeda And ISIS, Hamas Is Violent And Draws Its Ideas From The MB
In his column in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Muwaffaq Matar, a member of Fatah, compared Hamas to organizations such as Jabhat Al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS, which, he said, also draw their ideas from the MB. What all these groups have in common with Hamas, he stressed, is that they are hostile to Arab and Palestinian nationalism, they commit violent crimes against civilians, and they exploit the religion in order to grab power. He wrote:
"I suggest that those people [i.e., Hamas members] who are hiding in the darkness waiting for an opportunity to actualize their hostility, enmity, and primeval views vis-à-vis the national Palestinian movement read the reports published in Syria in the areas controlled by Jabhat Al-Nusra and their ilk that are exploiting the religion in order to grab power, no matter if the path to it is paved with the skulls of innocent civilians. They make up names for their armed organizations and propagandize for them using Islamic terms, when in fact they are barbaric dictatorial terrorists with a fundamental urge to do evil that they opportunistically release under the rubric of the [Syrian] opposition – but opposition, as a concept and as a legitimate political right, is very foreign to them.
"These [organizations] use hostile methods and means against Syrian civilians; no sane man would believe that any oppositionist in the world would do such things in order to force his rule and concepts on the public. Their deeds come as no surprise because their crimes, their barbarism, and their aggression towards the other is ideologically rooted...
"[Just like these organizations do,] Hamas's sheikhs and emirs [once] spoke of an Islamic state in Palestine whose foundations they would work to lay in the Gaza Strip, when they took it over in the armed coup 12 years ago. A Google search might reveal the truth – and proof [of this truth] – about their statements, articles, and slogans [on this matter]. [This would be] particularly [valuable] for those who still believe that the Palestine branch of the MB named Hamas is different [from the other branches]; they will realize that all branches of the organization are twins from a single womb, despite their variety and the proliferation of their names. Arab, foreign, and international studies and reports published by research organizations that emphasize that the Al-Qaeda ISIS organization [sic] emerged from the MB undeniably prove that [all] these are branches of the MB tree planted by British colonialists in 1928.
"Anyone who was 10 years old [in 2007 when Hamas took over Gaza] is today nearly 22, and before he earns his bachelor's degree he must obtain a certificate of actual, grounded knowledge about the deeds and crimes of the [Muslim] Brotherhood branch in Palestine in the Gaza Strip (Hamas), whose [deeds] can be summed up as follows: blowing up the bases of the [PA] security [apparatuses] with everyone inside, shooting at a convoy of Fatah members and Palestinian security personnel at point-blank range, throwing rivals from the rooftops of towers, executing without trial, preventing ambulances from reaching the wounded during clashes, betraying those who laid down their weapons after being promised that no harm would come to them, blowing up buildings and homes in order to reach their targets, and turning mosques into torture chambers and weapons depots..."
Al-Hayat Al-Jadida Editorial Board: Hamas Leaders In Gaza Care Nothing For Our Children's Lives
Following the February 8, 2019 death of 14-year-old Hassan Shalabi in March of Return protests at the Gaza-Israel border fence, and the display of his dead body in his school classroom for his classmates to view, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida published an editorial accusing Hamas leaders of caring nothing for the lives of Palestinian children. The editorial stated:
"The soldiers of the Israeli occupation fire upon our children because they want to assassinate the future Palestinian [generation] or at least to cripple it... The catastrophe is that the 'leaders of the resistance' [i.e. Hamas] in the wounded Gaza Strip do not understand this! The [even] greater catastrophe is that they continue to preach their nihilist positions, with their 'revolutionary' slogans, and pay no attention to that fact that this is, for the most part, what is pushing our children to the Israeli fences of death! These same leaders will apparently [go on] not understanding anything from all this, because they are continuing to exploit the 'resistance' as a bargaining chip for improving [their positions] in the path towards calm with Israel, in order to serve the MB emirate project...
"In this sense, and under these circumstances, these [Hamas] 'leaders' bear much of the responsibility for the abandonment of the lives of our children, when they do nothing to protect them from the Israeli death bullets!... Just as we will pursue the occupation [at the International Criminal Court], we must pursue those who continue to endanger our children's lives and to expose them to the Israeli death bullets at their populist demonstrations..."
Likewise, columnist Muwaffaq Matar wrote: "Our children are our future national project. Disregard for their lives is treason and the equivalent of a crime against the national project... The leaders and field commanders [of Hamas] bear more responsibility [for the children's involvement] in the national activity than [their] parents and guardians – assuming that [these Hamas leaders are even] present in the field, and are not [sitting] in their comfortable offices, from which they rival each other in publishing condemnations and pretending to weep over the spilled blood of our children...
"We must bring to account and expose the shame... of those who exploit the crimes of the occupation soldiers against our children as fodder for the media, and for aims that include [advancing] their narrow agenda..."
 See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1433, Fatah-Hamas Schism Widens Further Following Ruling By Palestinian Authority Constitutional Court – Established By Palestinian Authority President 'Abbas – To Disband Palestinian Legislative Council, January 22, 2019.
 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), February 2, 2019.
 Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), February 15, 2019.
 Mid.ru, February 12, 2019.
 Safa.ps, February 13, 2019.
 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), February 18, 2019.
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7889, Former Jordanian Minister: Hamas Is A Branch Of The Muslim Brotherhood, Not A Palestinian National Liberation Movement, February 12, 2019.
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7776, Palestinian Authority Furious At Qatar For Financing Hamas, Accuses It Of Perpetuating Palestinian Schism, Serving U.S. And Israeli Interests, November 27, 2018.
 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), January 30, 2019.
 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), February 3, 2019.
 Following the criticism of the display of the boy's body in his schoolroom, the Hamas Education Ministry clarified that it was done "spontaneously" and was not coordinated with the school principle or the ministry. Samanews.ps, February 9, 2019.
 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), February 11, 2019.
 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), February 10, 2019.