Gaza Infighting Renewed, Causing Increased Concerns for Shalit
11:05 Oct 03, '06 / 11 Tishrei 5767
by Hana Levi Julian
Renewed clashes between Fatah and Hamas left three dead and at least 22 wounded in Gaza Monday night. Israeli officials are concerned about how the situation impacts IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit.
The inter-faction violence which began Sunday escalated into what Palestinian Authority officials were concerned might once again raise the threat of a civil war, especially with the realization of the large number of weapons available in Gaza. Terrorists have smuggled thousands of arms across the border from Egypt in recent months.
Israeli officials, meanwhile, are concerned that the sharp increase in fighting between Hamas and Fatah gunmen in Gaza will negatively impact efforts towards obtaining Shalit’s release.
The soldier was abducted on June 25th by Hamas terrorists in a raid on an IDF outpost near the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza. His whereabouts and condition are still unknown.
Two Fatah members were kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in Khan Younis, an attack the faction blamed on Hamas. Three people were wounded in a firefight at Shifa Hospital in Gaza between the family of a dead Fatah gunmen and Hamas police officers. Fatah gunmen killed a waiter in Jericho when he refused to close his restaurant and comply with a strike organized by the minority faction to protest violence in Gaza. Two of PA Deputy Prime Minister Nasser al-Shaer’s bodyguards was shot by unidentified attackers in Shechem, according to the Associated Press. Al-Shaer was not present at the time.
Some 5,000 Fatah protestors in Rafah called for the resignation of PA Interior Minister Said Siyam and demanded the Hamas-led police force disband, leading to more violence. One police officer and a demonstrator were killed and at least 18 others wounded in the clash between police and protestors, according to Reuters.
Nabil Amr, a top aide to President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) said in Ramallah that Abbas was ‘seriously considering’ forming an emergency government or calling early elections to put an end to the ongoing conflicts and bloodshed. “Decisions should be taken in a short period of time,” he said.
The two factions have been battling for control of the PA government since Hamas took over from Fatah as majority party after a landslide victory at the polls in January.
An announcement last month by leaders of both factions that a new unity government would be formed proved meaningless after Hamas insisted it would never agree to formally recognize Israel’s right to exist, one of the demands of the Quartet Forum.
The United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, which comprise the Quartet, have also demanded that Hamas disarm and renounce violence as well as promise to uphold agreements signed by the previous PA administration.
Despite a statement released a week ago by Hamas officials that the impasse between Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Abbas would be overcome within two weeks, little progress has been made.