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Hamas' New Security Force Rankles Israel, PLO

The new Hamas-led Palestinian government creates a new security force in Gaza that includes members of militant factions. The unit will be headed by the leader of a group that has attacked Israel. He is also blamed for a bombing that killed three Americans in Gaza in 2003.

The appointment sparked new criticism from the U.S. and Israel and intensified the struggle for control of some 70,000 Palestinian security forces. Hamas' appointment is seen as a challenge to the power of President Mahmoud Abbas, whose office called the move "illegal and improper."

The new Hamas-led Palestinian government is deep in debt and reeling from a cut off of millions in foreign aid. To make matters worse, Hamas can't even find a bank to use, as Arab lenders fear lawsuits for dealing with the terrorist-listed group.

Government employees haven't been paid in six weeks -- including 60,000 well-armed Palestinian security forces, many of whom are loyal to the former Fatah-led government. The financial tensions have widened a split and prompted questions over whether Hamas or Fatah is in charge of the security forces.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eric Westervelt is a San Francisco-based correspondent for NPR's National Desk. He has reported on major events for the network from wars and revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa to historic wildfires and terrorist attacks in the U.S.

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