In Palestine, Hamas gunmen attacked a security stronghold of the rival Fatah faction on Tuesday, resulting in eight people being killed and threatening the stability of the Palestinian Unity Government in its third month of existence, reports The Irish Times.
A Fatah field commander was executed by Hamas soldiers outside his home, a hospital has been shot up, and people have been thrown from the tops of buildings. The violence has escalated to the point where civil war looms all too real in the Gaza Strip. 14 people were killed in fighting on Monday.
“I think we are in Iraq, not in Gaza. Snipers on rooftops killing people. Bodies mutilated and dumped in the streets in very humiliating ways. Houses bombarded and civilians killed. What else does civil war means but this?” Ammar, a 40-year-old father of six, told the Times.
Egyptian security officials were going to preside over a meeting between the two rival factions, but called that meeting off, seeming to send a signal that the situation looks hopeless.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads Fatah, has publicly accused Hamas of plotting to overthrow the unity government and seize control for itself. The National Security Forces of Fatah were deployed on Tuesday to defend key Fatah military and communications sites. Several Fatah security buildings were taken by Hamas.
“All the information and all the facts point to a faction, to which political and military leaders of Hamas belong, who are plotting a coup against Palestinian legitimacy,” the Agence France-Presse quoted the President as saying.
In the fighting, Hamas seized control of large caches of U.S. weaponry from Fatah. Hamas targeted U.S.-supported Fatah installations. They also seized control of eight American armored patrol vehicles.
“All the senior Fatah defense officials are either in hiding or they fled,” a Hamas military leader told World Net Daily. He said that if the U.S. delivers more weapons to the Fatah, they would not get into Fatah’s hands.
Earlier in the day, Fatah gunmen attacked the home of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh using rocket-propelled grenades. Haniyeh is a leader of Hamas. Hamas accused Fatah of carrying out an assassination attempt.
“Advance, our forces! Confront the seekers of the coup. Defend your dignity and your military honour. Defend the security of your people,” a National Security Forces commander was quoted as saying by the Times.
“Since early morning we have heard explosions and shooting. We can’t go and buy any food, we can’t stand in front of the windows, all our children are in one bedroom. The situation is very bad,” Adnan, a doctor in Gaza City, told the Agence-France Presse.
Early in the day, Hamas issued a demand to Fatah that it withdraw its presidential guard, NSF, military intelligence, and preventive security headquarters from Gaza City by the afternoon.
The Irish Times, “Palestinian government on brink of collapse”
World Net Daily, “Hamas seizes U.S. armored personnel carriers”
Voice of America, “Gaza Fighting Puts Unity Government in Jeopardy”
Agence France-Presse, “Deadly fighting drives Gaza closer to civil war”