Rafah checkpoint gunbattle points to growing Palestinian civil war

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Rafah checkpoint gunbattle points to growing Palestinian civil war

So the Hamas leader tries to smuggle in money (35 million), and gets stopped at the border. Because of the long wait the Hamas followers get all jittery and shoot the place up, attacking Fatah based security. They respond and in the middle someone shoots the Hamas leader's bodyguard.

Guess whos's fault it is?
According to sources below, its
1 Cowardly Fatah assassins
2 America
3 Israel


Israel temporarily barred Haniyeh from returning to Gaza after a tour of Muslim countries with 35 million dollars in currency.

Angry Hamas militants stormed the border terminal and engaged in a gunbattle with security forces stationed there who are loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, of Fatah.

After Haniyeh finally crossed, unidentified men began firing toward him in an attack that killed one of his bodyguards and wounded his son.

Ismail Radwan, a Hamas spokesman, said Dahlan "planned and organized" what he called a "cowardly assassination attempt" and said those behind the shooting "will not escape punishment."

Fatah spokesman Tawfik Abu Khousa dismissed the accusations and called for an official investigation.

"These accusations are posing a grave threat to Palestinian unity," he said.

Abbas aide Saeb Erekat, said Hamas had only itself to blame for the melee at the border crossing.

"We hold Hamas fully responsible for what happened yesterday at Rafah, both the chaos and destruction, and Hamas is fully responsible for whatever may harm Dahlan or any other Palestinian citizens," Erekat told reporters in Ramallah.

Abbas' Presidential Guard, which is in charge of security at the terminal, also denied involvement in the attack, which it said occurred during "complete chaos" at the terminal. In all, 27 people were wounded in the gunbattles at the border terminal.

Radwan also accused America of involvement in the shooting, saying that it resorted to violence after its efforts to bring down the Hamas-led government failed.

"This is an absurd allegation," said Geoff Anisman, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar, of Hamas, blamed collaborators with Israel for the attack on Haniyeh, and Interior Minister Said Siyam blamed Abbas, saying he was responsible for security at Rafah.

Thousands of Hamas supporters, including dozens of gunmen, attended the funeral for Haniyeh's bodyguard, chanting: "Death to collaborators. Death to traitors. Hamas will take revenge."

Following the attack, masked Hamas militants joined members of a Hamas-led paramilitary group in the streets of Gaza City on Friday morning. The heavily armed men were also deployed around the houses of Haniyeh, Zahar and Siyam in Gaza City.

The violence came amid a political deadlock between Abbas and the Hamas-led Cabinet and parliament following failed efforts to form a unity government. Abbas hoped such a government would end crippling international economic sanctions imposed on the Palestinian Authority after Hamas won January elections.

Hamas, responsible for dozens of deadly suicide bombings in Israel, is listed as a terror group by the U.S. and EU.

Abbas, a relative moderate, was to address the Palestinians on Saturday on his plans for ending the impasse and was expected to threaten early elections. A call for new elections, which Hamas says is illegal and has likened to a coup attempt, would likely further inflame the situation.

The latest round of Hamas-Fatah fighting erupted Monday with a drive-by shooting that killed the three small children of a Fatah security official and continued Wednesday with the gangland-style execution of a Hamas judge.

On Thursday, Haniyeh rushed home from a trip abroad to try to quell the violence.

But Israel ordered the Rafah crossing closed to keep Haniyeh from bringing in an estimated $35 million he had collected abroad to help alleviate the Palestinian financial crisis. Israeli officials said Haniyeh could return to Gaza without the money, which it said was to be used for terror attacks. Maria Telleria, spokeswoman for European monitors at the crossing, said Haniyeh left the funds in Egypt.

Meanwhile, impatient Hamas militants waiting outside stormed the terminal, shooting in the air. The Presidential Guard returned fire, and terrified travelers ran for cover. Crying women and children hid behind walls and taxis, while the European monitors fled.

The rampage destroyed furniture and computer equipment inside the terminal and plunged the area into darkness before Haniyeh was allowed to cross.

Thursday's unrest was likely to strain the U.S.-brokered deal that turned over control of the crossing to the Palestinians last year after four decades of Israeli control. The border can only operate in the presence of European monitors.

Despite the chaos, Telleria said the European monitors had sent a team to the terminal to assess the damage and figure out when the border can be reopened.

"We need to continue operating as soon as possible," she said. "There is no way we can think about withdrawing the mission."

Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh told Israel's Army Radio that government officials made the right decision not to let Haniyeh bring the money into Gaza, adding that if Haniyeh had been killed, "I wouldn't put up a mourning tent."
By netchicken: posted on 16-12-2006

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