Thursday, May 17, 2007

Palestinian Civil War Watch - 16

I haven't been keeping up with the Palestinian Civil War of late. It would seem that an update is in order. It seems that Palestinian National Unity is insufficiently united. Lets start with early yesterday.

Associated Press - May 16, 2007 12:23 AM ET

There's been more factional violence in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian security officials in Gaza City say Hamas gunmen stormed the home of a top Fatah official early Wednesday, killing five bodyguards inside.

Officials say Hamas militants fired mortars at the house of a Fatah security chief (Rashid Abu Shbak) before storming it and planting pipe bombs inside.

The attack comes after a brutal day of factional fighting between Hamas and Fatah rivals in Gaza that killed 15 people. The fighting has forced terrified residents to huddle in their homes.
Evidently among the Palestinians governmental succession is handled the old fashioned way. First you vote. If the vote tallies are incorrect you fight. Obviously some one made a mistake counting. Happens.

I'm not sure how this report meshes with the previous one but it does give some definition to the local color.
Hamas gunmen riddled a Fatah police jeep with gunfire at close range Tuesday, killing eight policemen in the most ruthless round yet of factional fighting, pushing the fragile Palestinian unity government closer to collapse.

Thirteen people were killed on Tuesday. Gunmen in black ski masks controlled the streets and terrified residents huddled in their homes. Israel, too, was briefly drawn into the battle.
I'll get back to the Israelis shortly. In the mean time we have the umpteenth call for a cease fire, a new and improved security plan, plus some minor unresolved issues. Like who will govern.
In the West Bank, Abbas called for the immediate implementation of a security plan that would put all rival forces under one command. However, his call is unlikely to be heeded: the fighting made it clear that the Hamas-Fatah power struggle was never really resolved, despite the formation of the unity government in March.
I said it was a joke then. It is a disaster now.

In other news it looks like general fighting is not the only answer to determining the nature of the next Palestinian Government. Attempted murder on the leadership seems to be a popular sport.
An alleged plot by Hamas militants to assassinate Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas was revealed on Thursday as deadly factional fighting resumed in Gaza and Israeli air strikes targeted the violence-wracked territory.

The plot was claimed hours after Abbas called off a trip to Gaza for talks aimed at reaching a definitive ceasefire between fighters from his Fatah party and Hamas that has left nearly 50 people dead and 100 wounded since Sunday.

"Abu Mazen's (Abbas's) visit to Gaza was cancelled after the discovery of a tunnel under Salaheddine Road full of explosives placed by the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades to blow up (his) convoy," said a senior security official, referring to Hamas's military wing.
If he dies who will replace him? Who will the Euros be able to visit when they come to the great nation of Palestine?
An official in Abbas's office confirmed the report but Abu Obeida, spokesman for the Hamas armed wing, told AFP "these reports are aimed at poisoning the atmosphere in Gaza. We deny them completely."
That is so much better than the incomplete denials we get so often from the Palestinians. Or in other word: "It is totally true, but honor demands we deny it. Other wise we would have to admit that we were lying when we invited Abbas for peace talks. Which would be a grevious stain on our honor. After all, we are all honorable men here."

The Israelis who for months have been complaining of rocket attacks coming from Gaza have decided on some active diplomacy to convince the Palestinians that further attacks are not in their best interests.
As the Palestinian crisis worsened, Israeli aircraft carried out four air strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza, killing six people in retaliation for rockets being fired on Israel from the territory.

The first attack hit the headquarters of a Hamas paramilitary force, killing one person and wounding 30. Barely two hours later, a Hamas fighter was killed when Israel fired on a car in Gaza City.

A house was targeted in another strike that left another Hamas militant dead and a fourth strike on a car in the Sufa area, one of the crossing points between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip, killed another three people.

About 15 Israeli tanks also advanced into Gaza near the former settlement of Dugit, a Palestinian security official said.

"Israeli tanks moved about two kilometres (1.2 miles) into the Gaza Strip, near the former (Jewish) settlement of Dugit, and east of Jabaliya" southeast of Dugit and four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the border at its closest point, the source said.

An Israeli military spokesman said only that "some tanks entered the northern Gaza Strip in a defensive move, without going far from the barrier" separating the territory from Israel.

The army also deployed a battery of 155mm artillery facing the Gaza Strip.

Israel's actions threatened to further exacerbate tensions in Gaza, turned into a warzone by five days of battles between rival Fatah and Hamas fighters that has driven the coalition cabinet to the brink of collapse.
The movement of the 155s signals Israely willingness to use counter battery fire on those launching rockets at Israel.

Personally I think the Palestinian National Unity Government is in the same condition as it ever was. DOA.

Here is another little bit about Israeli artillery in the Gaza area.
The decision to return the cannons to Gaza was made on Wednesday, and within less than 12 hours the regiment troops arrived at the area and began setting up a camp in the Gaza Strip.

At this stage, it is still unclear whether the batteries are being used only in order to deter the Palestinians, and whether the soldiers would be allowed to fire shells only after receiving approval from a major-general.
In other words the rules of engagement are fairly restrictive at this time.

Former and perhaps soon to be Israely Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a few suggestions on how to deal with the Palestinians. Full siege warfare.
Chairman of the Israeli Likud party, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Thursday called for cutting the water and electricity supplies of the Gaza Strip, and depriving it of services. He said that fundamental services, basics of human life, should be controlled by the Israeli authorities, in response to the continuation of the launching of homemade projectiles towards Israeli targets.

Netanyahu also expressed his support to a limited Israeli ground invasion into the Gaza Strip; to a limit of around four kilometers from the northern border, aimed at stopping the launch of projectiles toward Sderot and Ashkelon cities.
So far the ground incursions have already happened. I wonder if he is telegraphing Israel's further moves?


BillT said...

"As the Palestinian crisis worsened, Israeli aircraft carried out four air strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza, killing six people in retaliation for rockets being fired on Israel from the territory."

Notice how the wording makes it sound like Israel is pouring it on to the poor Palestinians?

Susan's Husband said...

A ground invasion is dumb. It's a policy that has failed over and over. Counter-battery fire sounds like a much better idea.

allen said...

Israel Matzav has reported that some of the Palestinian rockets have landed dangerously close to strategic assets in Ashkelon. Counter-battery fire will be of no value if these assets are damaged or destroyed beforehand; hence, the penetration of armor into Gaza, which is supposed to place Ashkelon and presumably Sderot out of Kassam range.