Monday’s fighting erupted when Hamas gunmen approached a training base used by Fatah forces that guard the crossing, officials said. The base was set up in part by an American security team sent to train Palestinians on how to check cargo and baggage at crossings.Make that 11 dead and Hamas is openly threatening Abbas with death if Hamas thugs who took over a several strategic locations are removed forcefully. The coalition government is in tatters as Hamas wants to go to all-out war with Israel, while the Fatah members want to table that motion and kill Israel with thousands of tiny paper cuts. Gaza is all but ceded to Hamas because they have the numbers. The West Bank is still up in the air, and Fatah has a marginal advantage there - namely that Israeli forces are operating in the region. Fatah's capabilities are severely limited at this point, and there's no reason to save them either.
The Hamas force attacked the base with rockets, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars, said Ahmed al-Kaisi, spokesman for the pro-Fatah Presidential Guard, which guards the crossing under an agreement with Israel. “We consider this a serious provocation and a crime committed in cold blood,” al-Kaisi said.
When forces from another Fatah security unit raced to the scene to provide backup, they were ambushed by Hamas gunmen, witnesses said.
A jeep full of security men that came under fire veered off the road and crashed. Hamas forces then surrounded the vehicle and riddled it with gunfire, said one witness, who works in a nearby factory. “It was unbelievable. May God help us,” said the man, who gave only his first name, Jamil, out of fear for his safety.
The US recently tried to do just that - sending weapons to Fatah's security services. Hamas simply ambushed the weapons convoy and took it for themselves. It's a big mistake to arm any of the Palestinians at this point - if they're not firing on each other, they'll simply use the weapons on Israelis.
Israel has also limited Fatah's ability to operate inside Jerusalem, particularly through the effective security fence and checkpoints that have improved Israeli security and reduced the PLO visibility in Jerusalem. That further weakens Fatah's overall standing within the Palestinian community, which sees nothing but weakness from Fatah and nothing but violence from Hamas. They're stuck between a rock and a hard place - and they've got no one but themselves to thank for this mess.
Meanwhile, Israeli PM Olmert says that he's more than willing to talk with Hamas if they abide by the Quartet rules. Olmert knows Hamas will never do that, and there are reports that Palestinian terrorists have been busy firing on Israeli forces yet again.
Yet, the Olmert government does such a poor job of media relations - shaping the conversation and putting Israel's interests and the facts ahead of the Palestinian propaganda, that one has to question their resolve to see things through. Meryl Yourish also points out the International Committee of the Red Cross's blatant hypocrisy and double standard with Israel. The ICRC leaks a confidential report on Israel's human rights treatment of Palestinians, all while it ignored years of blatant Arab human rights persecution of Jews from 1948 through 1967, not to mention that the ICRC has yet to gain access to Shalit, Goldwasser, or Regev since they were taken by the terrorist groups (though Hamas is part of the Palestinian Authority). Nothing but silence on that point. Israeli double standard time.
The British are telling the Palestinians to stop the senseless violence. Sorry, but it's not senseless. Hamas knows just how weak Fatah is and they're pressing home the advantage. That means taking out Fatah thugs and rising bloodshed - all with the hope of pushing Fatah to the side once and for all.
Britain on Tuesday urged the Palestinian security forces to restore order urgently, after "senseless" violence in the Gaza Strip that has left 18 people dead since the weekend.The Palestinian Authority, Hamas, or Fatah have never been interested in human rights or providing basic services - their primary interest was eliminating Israel and failing that - to blame Israel for all their own problems. That's not about to change now.
"I am deeply concerned by the dangerous upsurge in violence between Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip, and by the number of deaths since the weekend," said Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett in a statement.
"This fighting is senseless: it endangers civilians, makes it harder for the international community to help the people of Gaza, and undermines the peace process.
Fatah is sending in reinforcements - 500 Fatah members who have been receiving training in Egypt. I doubt that will do the trick.
The Fatah official, Tawfiq Abu Khoussa, said of the returning men: "The role of the security forces is to protect the security of the Palestinian people and not to take part in internal fighting."The only way to stop the internal fighting and improve the security of the Palestinian people is to engage the thugs from both Fatah and Hamas, and that isn't going to happen anytime soon, especially by these latest Fatah thugs.
The force is reported to be under the command of Muhammad Dahlan, national security adviser to Mr Abbas, who also leads Fatah.
Of more interest is the editorial roundup from around the region, where many Arab and/or Islamic papers wonder about the situation in Gaza and some are calling for a united strategy to ease tensions (jeez, could that include refocusing all attention on destroying Israel?).
As if on cue, Hamas launched a barrage of kassam rockets at Sderot causing significant injuries:
At least 17 people, including four children, were lightly to moderately wounded after Hamas terrorists fired at least seven Kassam rockets into Sderot for nearly two hours on Tuesday. Thirteen people were reported to have suffered from shock.Where is the world outrage over this attack? I'm betting on crickets. I'm awaiting a more concerted Israeli response than firing at open fields and churning up dust. The terrorists think that they can fire on Israel without fear of repercussions - and they'd be right. They're also hoping that getting Israel into a prolonged fight will stop the fighting among the various Palestinian terror groups. Israel needs to do what it must to eliminate the terror threat, and that means going after Hamas, Fatah, PIJ, and all the other splinter groups, regardless of whether they're part of the PA or not.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz convened an emergency meeting on Tuesday evening to consult with IDF officials including Chief of General Staff, Lt. -Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. So far, Israel has hit back with artillery fire at open spaces in northern Gaza, the military said. Palestinian officials said no one was hurt in the retaliatory attack.
The first Kassam rocket directly hit a private residence and another hit a school building in the city.
How many Israelis have to be injured or killed by Palestinian terror attacks before the message is received?
LGF has been following the rocket attacks and has video put together by One Jerusalem.
Snapped Shot has more from Sderot.
Mere Rhetoric has more on the situation in Sderot and wonders whether the IDF may hold off on a ground offensive if the Israelis believe that Hamas and Fatah could kill more of each other than the IDF could deal with in short time. It also appears that those wounded by the rocket attacks are more seriously injured than the initial reports had indicated.
Meryl hopes that Fatah and Hamas both lose. I concur.
Others blogging: Tel-Chai Nation, Carl in Jerusalem, Israpundit, and Isreallycool.
How many weeks and months did it take for the New York Times to finally realize that the illusion of unity between Hamas and Fatah was nothing but empty sloganeering and nonsense lapped up by a willing media and diplomats eager to ignore the difficult reality?
It never got off to a serious start, and as this week’s resignation of the independent interior minister, Hani al-Qawasmeh, made clear, the leaders of the fighting men were never prepared to listen to one authority anyway.Of course, it wouldn't be the NYT unless it NYT continues its flawed analysis, seeking to find ways to pin the blame for a lack of a peace deal with Israel on the Israelis. You just have to ignore the genocidal rhetoric of Hamas and Fatah and consistent calls for Israel's destruction.
The continuing battle between Fatah and Hamas for power in Gaza also makes the likelihood of substantive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians ever more distant.
Gaza gunmen opened fire on the Egyptian mediator who was trying to stop the fighting between Hamas and Fatah.
Others blogging the ongoing conflict: Yid With Lid, Clarity and Resolve, America's Victory 08, and Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.