Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Deadly Clashes Continue Between Palestinian Factions

Hamas official: 'We'll stay in power'

Deadly clashes continue between Palestinian factions, but leading party refuses to relinquish power, calls Fatah behavior mutinous.

Ali Waked
Published: 10.03.06, 11:27

Another attempt at calm in Gaza: Palestinian organizations and an Egyptian security delegation continued discussions Tuesday morning in efforts to contain violent infighting in the Strip. However, Fatah and Hamas representatives are sure that any calm will be temporary in nature.

The riots, which began in Gaza on Sunday and spread to the West Bank, started after Hamas intervention forces used live fire and grenades in order to disperse Palestinian policemen who were demonstrating to receive wages.

Starting Violence
8 killed, dozens hurt in Gaza clashes / Ali Waked
Intra-Palestinian conflict escalates: Eight killed, dozens wounded when striking Hamas security apparatus tries to suppress protests by Palestinian security officers demanding months of unpaid wages. Abbas calls for calm.
Full Story

Nine Palestinians were killed in the exchange of fire and dozens were injured. Monday, two more Palestinians were killed and 17 were injured in Rafah.

Members of the Hamas movement promised that they will not let "mutiny and attempted revolution" succeed. A senior Hamas leader told Ynet that the movement, who won a majority in the January 2006 elections, will not relinquish control of the government.

"We will remain in power, a Hamas government or a unity government, at least for the next four years until the end of our term, even if this will bring about an escalation of the conflict and even if, to our chagrin, there will be many more fatalities," he said.

Opportunistic Behavior Causes Infighting:

This same official pointed an accusing finger at the United States as responsible for the recent infighting in Gaza: "This hasn't been about a workers' strike for a long time. This is an attempt of US pressure on a known group within the Fatah, and on (Palestinian President) Mahmoud Abbas to prevent a unity government containing Hamas."

"This group, under American and Israeli pressure, undermined a unity government following the elections, they think that if they incite in the streets, that we will surrender, but we are here and we will fight these corrupt people," he said.

According to the official, the Palestinians wanted a change and, therefore, voted for Hamas. "The nation wanted a change of a corrupt group and now, by preventing the transfer of funds, some of which Mahmoud Abbas is preventing himself, into the accounts of the government workers who are protesting, they are trying to topple us."

"Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh warned them not to play with us. He said that we are lions. I hope that, in the end, ethical and logical considerations and the prohibition against bloodshed will overcome any opportunistic considerations. If not, we'll deal with this group in any way necessary. The way of Islam and the followers of Islam has never been easy," he added.

Fatah: 'Allowed to Check Government':

Fatah, on the other hand, claims that Hamas treats the Haniyeh government as something holy. Movement spokesman Tawfik abu-Husa told Ynet that Fatah is not trying to topple the Hamas government.

"On the contrary, we're in favor of the legislative body to continue serving out its term; however, one of our roles is to check the government when it is clear that it has failed in its duties," he said.

"It is the right of the public to criticize and protest against the government. Ministers and regional representatives don't hesitate to call the government something holy, a government of Allah and, as such, above criticism," he explained.

Abu-Husa claims that changes of government within the Palestinian Authority have a precedent, and therefore, Hamas members are overreacting to normal and democratic protests. "We remind Hamas that this is the tenth PA government. Changes of government are routine."

"However, Hamas doesn't distinguish between the government as a political movement and between Parliament and react to every criticism as political criticism against the movement. We are criticizing the action and quality of action of the government, and not Hamas," he continued.

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