Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said on Saturday it will take legal action against members of the rival Fatah faction who defy a ban on leaving the territory to attend a key party congress. Fatah members who go to the West Bank town of Bethlehem for Tuesday's congress will be prosecuted on their return to the Strip, the Hamas justice ministry said in a statement.
Sources close to Fatah, told AFP that some 12 delegates from Gaza have managed to evade tight Hamas security measures to enter Israel and travel to the West Bank through the Erez crossing. Several others have had their identity papers confiscated to ensure they cannot leave the territory.
A few days ago, Mahmud Zahar, a senior Hamas leader, said the ban would be lifted if Fatah freed all Hamas prisoners in the occupied West Bank.