Skip to comments.Abbas trying to contain Islamic militants
Posted on 07/19/2005 2:59:01 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - As Israeli police on Tuesday confronted supporters of Jewish settlers protesting the planned Gaza Strip withdrawal, Palestinians were fighting among themselves.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is trying to contain increasingly defiant Islamic militants, with gunmen from his Fatah party confronting armed Hamas fighters. The result: offices torched by arsonists, wrecked cars and casualties on both sides.
Fatah has unofficially asked its affiliated militant group, the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, to help fight Hamas as Abbas seeks to ensure a smooth Israeli pullout from Gaza settlements, Fatah and Al Aqsa members said.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority are negotiating ways to reduce Gaza's isolation after the mid-August withdrawal, including opening an airport and seaport. Palestinian officials fear a surge in militant violence will hurt those efforts.
Abbas is under growing U.S. and Israeli pressure to hit Hamas, but a senior Hamas member said such pressure would only lead to more attacks against the Jewish state.
"We will direct our rifles and our bullets at the occupiers (Israel) who are pushing us to clash," said Sami Abu Zuhri.
Israel and the Palestinians are each trying curb their own extremists ahead of the pullout. On Tuesday, Israeli police encircled an encampment of thousands of hardline protesters to keep them from marching toward Gaza settlements slated for evacuation. Scuffles broke out.
Around the same time, Palestinian police and gunmen from rival factions clashed inside Gaza, exchanging fire, burning cars and lobbing hand grenades.
Abbas told foreign reporters in Gaza on Monday that he still preferred negotiations to temper militants' behavior, but he has recently begun using force, keenly aware of Hamas' growing power after it won a series of regional elections.
On Friday, Palestinian police trying to stop militants firing rockets at Jewish settlements opened fire on a Hamas cell. Two bystanders were killed in the crossfire.
The Palestinian infighting came after six Israelis were killed in Palestinian attacks last week, including an Islamic Jihad suicide bombing in the seaside city of Netanya. Israeli troops massed outside Gaza over the weekend, and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he had given the army a free hand to halt Palestinian mortar and rocket fire.
The rhetoric cooled Monday, when Israeli and Palestinian leaders said they would try to stop the escalation.
The internal Gaza conflicts erupted when the offices of two Hamas-affiliated research companies were burned down, residents said. Separately, a gunbattle broke out after a Palestinian police patrol traveling near a Hamas stronghold refused to stop at a makeshift Hamas roadblock.
"While Palestinian police ... were patrolling Jebaliya and Beit Lahiya, they came under fire from armed Hamas men. Nine Palestinian police were wounded, and three cars were attacked by rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades," said a Palestinian Authority statement.
A Hamas militant, speaking on condition of anonymity fearing reprisals, said Palestinian police opened fire on Hamas positions for no reason. During the clashes several cars were torched, witnesses said.
Abu Zuhri called the violence a provocation.
"What is happening is not an accident or something that came suddenly. It is a pre-planned campaign to attack the Hamas organization through an escalation," he told The Associated Press.
The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, meanwhile, said two members were wounded in Gaza during clashes with Hamas. It threatened retaliation.
"Any bullets fired at us or any bullet fired against the Palestinian police officers will be met with the same tools," said an Al Aqsa spokesman, who identified himself by his nom de guerre, Abu Mohammed.
Senior members of both Fatah and Al Aqsa in the West Bank said Abbas has enlisted the help of Al Aqsa in his fight against Hamas. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the move is not official Palestinian Authority policy.
This development would add a complicated twist, because Abbas is also under pressure to dismantle Al Aqsa. Though loosely affiliated with Fatah, Al Aqsa has also posed a threat to Abbas' authority, remaining armed and sometimes clashing with Palestinian police.
Egyptian mediators were in Gaza for a third day Tuesday to try to persuade militants to hold fire. Afterward, Hamas official Said Siyam said, "The crisis still exists, but there are efforts and dialogue to end it as soon as possible."
Fatah official Abdullah Ifranji said as a condition for a settlement, Hamas must hand over those responsibile for attacks on security forces and anyone involved in clashes.
Sharon and Abbas signed a cease-fire deal in February to end more than four years of bloodshed; in March, militant groups including Hamas agreed to abide by it.
Abu Zuhri said Hamas is still committed to the truce but that compliance is conditioned on Israel halting attacks on Palestinians.
Associated Press writers Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah and Ibrahim Barzak in Gaza contributed to this report.
Ohhh Abbas. Oh well never mind.
>>Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is trying to contain increasingly defiant Islamic militants, with gunmen from his Fatah party confronting armed Hamas fighters.>>
As Dr. Phil would ask with great sarcasm, "And how's that working out for you?"
>>What the heck is Abba doing in a war zone. They are a band for crying out loud.<<
Maybe this is Abbas' Waterloo, Fernando.
When they aren't killing someone esle they kill each other...
"As Israeli police on Tuesday confronted supporters of Jewish settlers protesting the planned Gaza Strip withdrawal, Palestinians were fighting among themselves.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is trying to contain increasingly defiant Islamic militants, "
"fighting among themselves" is the final answer. After they've fought with the entire world over their
schizo-mania they will return to what they do best, FIGHT AMONG THEMSELVES. This is one for the history and genetic science books. Thousands of years of DE-evolution within a breed of people and they still manage to procreate like rabbits. Boggles the mind.
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