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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Gaza violence continues; truce is "shattered"

The new  Palestinian ceasefire agreement is now considered "shattered" as thirty seven people have been killed since Sunday. What appears to be happening is a concerted effort by Hamas to drive Fatah from Gaza. These things don't just happen, especially as the violence flares up repeatedly after each "cease fire." Candidates for catalysts include the secret police and military intelligence of several Middle Eastern countries. The events look quite a bit like those of the Lebanese civil war, which was orchestrated by the Syrians.
The Palestinian
Maanews service reports:

Gaza - Ma'an - (Updated 15:45) - The death toll on Wednesday continues to rise. Palestinian medical sources have confirmed seven more deaths in the Tel Hawa district of west Gaza City as a result of the ongoing Fatah-Hamas clashes.
This brings the death toll as a result of inter-Palestinian fighting to 37 since Sunday morning.
The 12th truce brokered between the feuding factions of Hamas and Fatah since December collapsed at dawn on Wednesday when gunmen besieged the house of the Palestinian domestic security chief, Rashid Abu Shbak, in the west of Gaza City, killing four of his guards.
Over 100 Palestinians have been injured as a result of these most recent factional clashes in Gaza.
Five Executive Force members killed
The director of the Palestinian Preventive Security force, Yousef Issa, reported that five Executive Force members opened fire at the residential neighbourhood where he lives on Wednesday afternoon. Issa added that the Preventive Security forces arrested the five EF members but while they were being transferred to a car belonging to the Preventive Security, Hamas gunmen opened fire at the car, killing their own men in addition to two members of the Preventive Security service.
Meanwhile, an EF spokesman denied the report and accused the Preventive Security of executing the five EF members.
The bodies of the five EF members were taken to Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City while those of the Preventive Security forces were sent to Al-Quds Hospital also in Gaza City.
Later, the residential building was set ablaze and several apartments were burnt. Residents of the building reported that house to house search is conducted in the building where several Fatah leaders live.
Dawn attack on domestic security chief's house
At dawn on Wednesday, armed men surrounded Abu Shbak's house in the Tel Hawa district of the city and fired grenades. Palestinian medical sources confirmed that four guards were killed by the gunmen's bullets, naming Hamada Abd Rabbo and Ahmad Hameida as two of the dead. In addition, eight other Palestinians were injured.
The medical sources added that Abu Shbak's guards managed to evacuate Abu Shbak's wife and children and transfer them to a safe location before the attack.
Fatah spokesman, Abdul-Hakim Awad, accused members of the Hamas loyalist Executive Force of "slaughtering" Abu Shbak's guards.
Clashes prevent medical assistance
Armed clashes are continuing on Wednesday morning in more than one location across the strip. Particularly fierce clashes have been reported in the Tuffah and Tel Hawa districts of Gaza City. Shots have also been fired at the Egyptian delegation which brokered this most recent, short-lived ceasefire; nobody was injured.
Violent clashes, in which shots were being fired from all directions, have also prevented ambulances from reaching the injured.
Gunmen also opened fire on Wednesday at a car belonging to the Palestinian medical relief services, resulting in the serious injury of a female nurse, Zahr Shubat who received a bullet to the head.
The Palestinian ministry of health announced on Tuesday it was on alert in all hospitals and medical centres in the Gaza Strip. The minister of health, Radwan Al-Akhras, who is currently in Geneva, Switzerland, called for an emergency meeting in order to discuss the latest developments resulting from the current chaos, and the large number of victims of the inter-factional fighting.
The meeting was held by video conference in the ministry's headquarters in Gaza and the West Bank. The minister participated from Geneva. The central emergency room demanded that all security services and armed men cooperate and facilitate the passage of ambulances and medical staff throughout the Gaza Strip in order that they may carry out their jobs without jeopardizing any lives.
Meanwhile, the residents of An-Noor tower, a residential building near the old Palestinian interior ministry in the Tel Hawa district of Gaza City, have appealed to the clashing gunmen to cease fire so that residents who have been injured during the ongoing clashes in the area can be evacuated.
A resident of the building said that all the residents gathered in the ground floor after shells hit several apartments causing injuries. He called for the fighting to cease until women and children can be transferred to a safe shelter.
Palestinian medical sources announced on Wednesday morning that Hassan Sweidan, a member of the Palestinian preventive security service, had been shot dead by a sniper near the An-Noor tower in Gaza City.
Palestinian medical sources also announced the death of another member of the preventive security service, Mahir Radi, 37, near the An-Noor towers in Gaza City, on Wednesday morning.
Other Fatah leaders targeted
A member of Palestinian President Abbas' presidential guards, known as Force 17, was also killed on Tuesday night near the headquarters of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, in Gaza City.
There was another attack on the house of Samir Mashrawi, another Fatah leader, but it was stopped before any injuries or casualties resulted. Eyewitnesses reported that Hamas members besieged Mashrawi's house for several hours and demanded the residents of the neighbouring houses to evacuate.
The new ceasefire agreement, reached on Tuesday night through mediation by the Egyptian security delegation in Gaza City, had called for hostilities to cease at 12 o'clock midnight. All checkpoints in the streets of Gaza were to be removed, all armed men were to withdraw from the streets and all abductees, taken from both sides, were to be exchanged.
At the time, the chief of the Egyptian delegation, Maj. Gen. Burhan Hamad, expressed optimism for the agreement between Fatah and Hamas. Maj. Gen. Hamad also assured he had formed a committee to ensure the implementation of the agreement including representatives from the presidency, the government and the Egyptian delegation.
By Tuesday at midnight, 16 Palestinians had been killed; the latest was a member of Hamas' armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, called Isam Al-Juju, and an 18-year-old Palestinian youth. Some sixty Palestinians were reported to be injured.
'Dangerous escalation'
The Fatah movement condemned the attack on Abu Shbak's home on Wednesday morning. A statement issued by Fatah in the northern Gaza Strip said, "Hamas has burned all the vessels and amputated all the hands extended to get the Palestinian people through this bloody cycle of violence."
The statement called on Fatah members at all levels to prepare for all possible options "to respond to these atrocities in accordance with this dangerous escalation."
The statement added, "No sooner has the ink of the last of many written agreements with Hamas dried than the mob members of the Executive Force and the [Hamas military wing] Al-Qassam wrote another document, but with the blood of six martyrs who were assassinated in an ambush.
"They broke into the home of the resistance struggler, Major General Rashid Abu Shbak, the director of domestic security. This was a dangerous escalation, which came simultaneously with the targeting of the home of Samir Mashharawi and Mahir Miqdad. This has confirmed that this group who went astray has reached an unprecedented level."

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