Hamas v. Fatah: Round III
Posted by Exile on May 9, 2006
Once again, Hamas and Fatah militia are at each others throats in the Gaza strip. It would appear that the civil war is slowly but surely developing despite the best efforts of both Ismail Haniyah and Mahmoud Abbas to deny such things. This from the Jerusalem Post:
Ten Palestinians were wounded early Tuesday in renewed clashes between the Hamas and Fatah factions in downtown Gaza City, witnesses and paramedics say.
The clashes erupted after Hamas gunmen arrived at the home of a top Fatah official and opened fire at Fatah activists inside, witnesses said. The Fatah gunmen returned fire and nine were injured in the exchange, including five schoolchildren, hospital officials said. At least one of the wounded was a Hamas gunmen, officials said. No further details were available regarding the identity of the wounded. According to Hamas officials, bodyguards working for Samir Mashrawi, a top Fatah leader in Gaza, kidnapped three members of the Hamas military wing earlier in the morning and the Hamas gunmen had arrived on the scene to free them. Fatah officials denied the accusations.
Tuesday’s clashes follow Monday’s events, in which three people were killed as gun battles erupted between armed Hamas and Fatah militias in the southern Gaza Strip.
[…I wonder – who would hold hostages at a school? How else would 5 children get involved? Hmmm… Seems a bit strange.]
So this has been brewing for a few days now. The ‘tit for tat’ mentality has really come home to roost. I think it strange that in all the cases we have seen over the past few days, it is Hamas that is the aggressor. First they find some jumped up reason to go to battle and then nothing will stop them. It seems to be a case of ‘let’s start something and see what happens’. Are the Hamas militia trying to goad Fatah into a fully blown civil war? Indeed, that seems to be likely:
Following the incidents, Palestinian leaders and spokesmen warned of a civil war. The violent clashes were the worst since Hamas formed its new cabinet in March.
They took place only hours after Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh failed to settle their differences during a meeting in Gaza City, the second of its kind in 48 hours. Egyptian security officials who are in the Gaza Strip were trying to mediate on Monday between the two sides, sources close to Abbas said.
I don’t know if Egyptian mediators can really help the situation. Both sides appear to be spoiling for a fight and both accuse the other of starting the aggression:
Hamas said the clashes began after Fatah gunmen kidnapped three of its men near Khan Yunis. Dozens of Hamas gunmen later surrounded a building where the kidnapped men were being held, but refrained from storming the place to avoid bloodshed, a senior Hamas official told The Jerusalem Post.
He said the Hamas gunmen instead kidnapped four Fatah militiamen to secure the release of the abducted Hamas activists. Following the intervention of clan leaders and notables in the area, both sides agreed to release the hostages, he added.
According to the official, hundreds of Fatah gunmen later went on a shooting spree in the area, targeting the homes of some Hamas members. He said 23-year-old Wasfi Shahwan, a member of Hamas’s armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, was shot and killed during the attack.
Following the incident, a fierce gun battle erupted between the two sides and two Fatah gunmen were killed – Muhammed al-Jaraf and Hamadeh Ismail. At least five other people were wounded.
Fatah leaders accused Hamas of initiating the confrontation and accused the Islamic movement’s heads of inciting against Fatah. Radwan al-Akhras, a spokesman for Fatah in the Gaza Strip, said recent statements by Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal against Fatah had increased tensions and triggered the armed clashes.
Add to all the above, that both sides are miffed at the other for recruiting their own ‘security forces’ and bodyguards and other such para-military organisations, and the civil strife is inevitable. Perhaps even desirable. Hamas is having trouble governing the land after Fatah, and with the president, Mahmoud Abbas, being a staunch Fatah man, they need to remove Fatah from the equation. The Hamas military wing is not going to wait much longer.
Watch this space…
Source: Jerusalem Post