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Saturday, February 3, 2007

Gaza clashes: Hamas destroys Fatah security headquarters

Gaza clashes: Hamas destroys Fatah security headquarters
After Fatah forces raid and vandalize Hamas government office building,
Hamas gunmen set fire to headquarters of Fatah's Preventative Security
Forces, burning it to the ground. Gun battles continue throughout Gaza,
after brief Hamas-Fatah truce collapses
Ali Waked YNET Latest Update: 02.03.07, 14:51,7340,L-3360281,00.html

Hamas operatives in Gaza completely destroyed Fatah's security headquarters
in the Gaza Strip, at the height of another day of inter-factional violence
in the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas gunmen set fire to the Palestinian Preventative Security Forces
building in northern Gaza, burning it to the ground. Immediately afterwards
they continued on the Force 17 headquarters - Fatah's general and military
intelligence staff, and destroyed it as well.

The attacks came in apparent response to Fatah's raid on the Hamas'
Agriculture Ministry earlier Saturday, in search of weapons and gunmen in

Ceasefire collapses once again

Less than a day after another ceasefire agreement was attained between Fatah
and Hamas, on Saturday morning violence between the factions erupted anew,
and at least eight Palestinian were wounded.

Severe gun battles erupted on the streets of Gaza City, near President
Mahmoud Abbas' office and the Palestinian security headquarters in the city
center. Witnesses reported that gunmen from both camps were positioned in
the area and there was heavy gunfire.

Early Saturday afternoon Hamas gunmen set fire to the Palestinian Authority's
Preventative Security Forces headquarters, burning it to the ground.

Hamas operatives also destroyed the command center of Force 17, Fatah's
general and military intelligence branch.

In attempt to establish control, Palestinian security forces set up
roadblocks in Gaza City and at various strategic points throughout the

Eight people were wounded Saturday, one of them severely, in the clashes
between the factions.

During the morning hours members of the Fatah-linked Palestinian
presidential guard raided and vandalized the Agriculture Ministry in Gaza
City, which is under Hamas authority, in search of documents, weapons and

Palestinian Agriculture Minister Muhammad al-Ara said the presidential guard
completely destroyed the office and its equipment. He denied claims that the
office was used as a hiding place for Hamas gunmen, and charged President
Mahmoud Abbas with responsibility for the raid.

West Bank tense

Palestinian Authority residents were concerned that the violence would
spread to the West Bank. Saturday morning members of Fatah's armed wing, the
al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, warned that if Hamas leaders in the West Bank did
not explicitly condemn the group's conduct Gaza, then Fatah would target
Hamas leaders outside the Strip.

Already Saturday morning signs of tensions rising could be seen in the West
Bank, when gunmen opened fire towards a Hamas operative in Dir Istiya near

Meanwhile, sources in Nablus reported that Fatah operatives hurled a Molotov
cocktail towards the Hamas parliamentary building in the city.

Bloody battles plagued Gaza since Thursday night. In attempt to rein in the
bloodshed, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas' politburo Khaled
Mashaal discussed the spiraling violence in a phone conversation Friday
night and agreed to shore up a ceasefire. Abbas and Mashaal were slated to
meet Tuesday in Saudi Arabia.

The conversation took place just a few hours after leaders of the rival
factions said they agreed to revive an earlier truce deal, which collapsed
into a day of fierce fighting. The second ceasefire, however, was
short-lived as well.

Since Thursday 25 Palestinians have been killed as a result of the
inter-factional violence, including four children. Additionally over 250
people were wounded. Palestinian hospitals called on citizens to donate
blood as there was a shortage due to the large number of casualties being

First Published: 02.03.07, 10:47

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