Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hamas presses its offensive in Gaza, taking over all PA ministry offices in Gaza City, securing control of Rafah, forcing PSF officers to surrender their Gaza City headquarters (after destroying all equipment, computers, archives; eye-witness reports say Hamas mbrs. summarily execute at least 7 PSF mbrs.) and other main security compounds; capturing and executing Fatah’s n. Gaza cmdr. Samih al-Madhun. At least 27 Palestinians are killed (14 of them in the fight for the PSF headquarters), 70 wounded in fighting during the day. Nearly 100 senior Fatah security and admin. officials flee Gaza for Egypt by boat (Egypt has already returned the 40 PA presidential guards who fled on 6/13). At the same time, the IDF occupies hills outside Bayt Lahiya to prevent rocket fire into Israel. With Gaza under almost complete Hamas control, Abbas declares a state of emergency, fires Haniyeh, and dissolves the national unity government. He also for the first time orders PA/Fatah forces to take offensive action against Hamas. Late in the evening, Hamas gains control of Abbas’s Gaza City offices, the only remaining Gaza institution still in the hands of Fatah/the PA. In the West Bank, PA forces under Abbas’s control begin rounding up 10s of Hamas mbrs. In and around Nablus and in Jenin, Tulkarm, masked AMB mbrs. raid offices affiliated with Hamas, Change and Reform, looting and sometimes setting fire to them, exchanging fire with Hamas mbrs., leaving at least 13 Palestinians injured. The AMB also abducts 5 Hamas mbrs. in Jenin. Meanwhile, Abbas’s national security adviser Muhammad Dahlan (the U.S. and Israel’s hope for restoring order to Gaza) returns from an extended stay in Egypt, where he underwent minor surgery, going to Ramallah instead of Gaza to confer with Abbas. Meanwhile, the IDF sends an undercover unit into Saida nr. Tulkarm, driving a car with Palestinian license plates, assassinating wanted AMB mbr. Muhammad Twair in a driveby shooting, also wounding 2 bystanders; sends patrols in Ithna nr. Hebron, Kafr Dan and Kafr Ra’i nr. Jenin, firing on residential areas and on stone-throwing youths who confront them, seriously wounding 1 Palestinian. Jewish settlers burn 10s of olive trees nr. Tulkarm; the IDF bars firefighters fr. reaching the scene. In Gaza, 5 Palestinian children (ages 10–15) are killed and 4 (ages 9–16) are wounded by IDF UXO nr. Shuka while collecting scrap metal; the 8 children are from 3 families: 2 Mansour boys are killed, 2 Hessi boys are killed, and 1 Barbakh boy is killed and 4 are wounded. (AFP, Jerusalem Post, MENA, MNA 6/14 in WNC 6/15; AP, BBC, NYT, WP, WT 6/15; WP 6/18; PCHR 6/21)