Tuesday, June 12, 2007

In Gaza, Fatah-Hamas fighting escalates for the 4th day, leaving at least 24 armed Palestinians, 4 civilians dead and more than 100 wounded (the highest 1- day total in 18 mos. of factional fighting), as gunmen on both sides continue to ignore appeals by their political leaders to halt the violence. (Egyptian mediators try to broker another cease-fire, but the Hamas delegation cannot reach the talks because of Fatah roadblocks.) By evening, Hamas is reported to be in control of most of n. Gaza. During the day, Hamas gunmen and ESF mbrs. surround secondary Fatah and PA security posts across Gaza. In light of increasingly coordinated Hamas attacks, Abbas accuses Hamas of attempting to stage a coup, for the 1st time orders his security forces to defend their positions. Of note: Hamas stages major assaults on Fatah’s security headquarters in Khan Yunis and Gaza City, where some 200 Hamas mbrs. firing mortars and RPGs seize the post from 500 Fatah fighters. After dark, 100s of Hamas gunman raid a major hilltop NSF post in Jabaliya r.c., using small arms and grenades, taking the post after an intense gunfight that leaves 21 dead and 60 wounded (included in the figures above). PA presidential guardsmen fire RPGs at Haniyeh’s home in what Hamas condemns as an assassination attempt (no one is injured); in retaliation, Hamas mbrs. fire mortars toward Abbas’s Gaza residence, causing no damage or injuries (Abbas is in Ramallah). Hamas mbrs. also attack the home of PSF cmdr. Hassan Muhsin (not home at the time), killing his wife, son, daughter, and niece; ransack the vacant home of PC mbr. Nabil Shaath; occupy a PA-funded TV station in Gaza City. Human Rights Watch issues a statement accusing both factions of war crimes for executing captives and killing bystanders. In the West Bank, Fatah and Hamas kidnap rival mbrs. (including the AMB kidnapping of Hamas-affiliated Dep. Transportation M Fadi Shabanah); PA presidential guardsmen attack, close a Hamas TV station in Ramallah. Palestinians in Ramallah stage a demonstration against the interfactional fighting. On the Israeli-Palestinian front, Palestinians fire several rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, lightly injuring 1 Israeli. The IDF fires on stonethrowing youths nr. Nablus, wounding an 11-yr.-old Palestinian bystander. More than 1,000 Jewish settlers, escorted by the IDF, reoccupy the evacuated Homesh settlement site nr. Nablus, closing the local stretch of the Nablus–Jenin road to Palestinian traffic. Inside Israel, the Israel Lands Authority demolishes a home in the Israeli Palestinian neighborhood of al-Jawarish in Ramla built without a permit. (MENA, MNA, OCS, PSCT 6/12 in WNC 6/13; NYT, OCHA, WP, WT 6/13; PCHR 6/14)