Reports are suggesting that Hamas is near victory over rival secular Fatah as heavy fighting continues. The Times/CNN/BBC all report that Hamas gunmen are pressing Fatah and have encircled its security and political headquarters in Gaza City. The building is surrounded by hundreds of Hamas fighters.
Fatah supporters are on the run with some having fled across the border to Egypt or surrendered. Hamas is predicting it will have the entire coastal strip by the end of the week.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, of Fatah, is to make a statement on the future of “the unity government”.
With 80 dead a way back from this the most serious fighting looks next to impossible. Its another blow for a unified Palestinian state and a step towards an Islamic mini state in Gaza. Hamas have said they have no plans to go as far as the Taliban and support the education of women, but that’s hardly a comfort.
Israel and Egypt have accused Iran and Syria of being behind the new violence. Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman insinuated Syria were involved in a reported call to Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to get his people to agree to a ceasefire.
Olmert later backed a call made last week by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni for a UN intervention force to enter southern Gaza to patrol the border with Egypt in a bid to stop weapons smuggling. However, the force would not play a peacekeeping role inside the strip itself.
It’s all ominous. The Times quoted an Israeli soldier on the border crossing who said that while Fatah guards were still there when asked what would happen if Hamas showed up, he shrugged and replied: “I don’t know, maybe there will be war.”
UPDATE – June 15: ‘There will be no dialogue with Fatah, only the sword and the rifle’
From The Times: Triumphant Hamas fighters are planning to celebrate their final Gaza victory with Friday prayers today in the captured administrative compound of the routed secular President.The pledge came from a leading preacher as the Islamist forces overran the last Fatah strongholds.
In the West Bank Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President and Fatah leader, declared a state of emergency last night and dissolved the Hamas-led Government. He said that he would call new elections “as soon as the situation allows”.
The outlook does not look good for Abbas. Another report in The Times says Fatah fighters are blaming him for a lack of leadership. In comaprison Hamas look very organised.
The BBC reported that the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, affiliated to Fatah, has called for “martial law” and the complete deployment of the Fatah movement.
During the night, Fatah militants in the West Bank city of Nablus claimed to have killed a Hamas member in retaliation for events in Gaza. As many as 90 Hamas loyalists across the West Bank are also reported to have been rounded up as a similar process goes on in Gaza.
Daash Qannah, a senior Fatah fighter in Nablus, loaded cans of petrol into the boot of his car and three Kalashnikov rifles on the back seat, said: “The kidnappings are over with, now we will start with the killing,” Mr Qannah declared before driving off, with vague plans of burning Hamas buildings to the ground.
UPDATE: 2 – Fabian posted this link from ZioNation in the threads below. Worth looking at.
What is happening in Gaza, the destruction of the Fatah by the Hamas, is an unmitigated disaster for United States and Western policy, and a grave threat to Israel. Inexplicably, nobody seems to have planned for this “contingency,” though everyone knew it was coming, and nobody is doing anything about it.
A relatively small force of Hamas Islamist extremists are liquidating the possibility of a two state solution. Any possibility of peaceful coexistence is being swept into the dustbin.
The following are the last broadcast words of a Fatah activist, in the process of being murdered by the Hamas:
Hamas has stormed the home of Jamal Abu Jideyan, general secretary of Fatah in Northern Gaza and an Al Aqsa Brigades commander, and assassinated him. About 20 minutes ago we were listening to Sawt Al Hurriya, a Palestinian radio station, as Jideyan’s brother called into the station frantic. Hamas militants had surrounded the family’s home in the Jabbaliya refugee camp and had fired 16 RPG rounds at the home, with 35 family members inside, he said. “They’re firing at us, firing RPGs, firing mortars. We’re not Jews,” he screamed into the telephone live on air, gun fire bursting in the background.
Gene adds: Slightly off-topic, and you probably won’t agree with everything, but I recommend reading s.o. muffin’s eloquent comment (of June 16, 2007, 10:46 PM) on what he is proud of and ashamed of in Israel.