Tensions between political factions Hamas and Fatah have been getting worse for months and came to a head recently.
On December 12, three young brothers, sons of a Fatah security force member, ages three to nine, were shot by unidentified gunmen.
On December 14, the Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya was
detained at the Rafah International Crossing in Egypt by Israeli
Occupational forces. Haniya was bringing money into Gaza to maintain
government functions since other sources of funding are being blocked
by Israel, the U.S. and Britain. Haniyas Hamas supporters clashed
with Palestinian security forces at Rafah, also with Israeli and
Egyptian forces as well. Thirteen people including three children and
four civilians were wounded.
After several hours, Haniya was allowed to enter Gaza without the
money. His convoy was attacked, one bodyguard was killed, Haniyas son
and an adviser were wounded. Fatah supporters have been accused of the
On December 16, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a call for
early elections of Parliament, now controlled by Hamas, and the
Presidency. Hamas leaders say the declaration is illegal and is
tantamount to a coup. Palestinian law allows the president to appoint
or dismiss the prime minister, but the parliament must approve any
election. It is doubtful the Hamas led parliament will support its
dissolution or an election.
Large rallies were held on Saturday by both factions. Hamas legislator
Mushir Al Masri accused Abbas of illegally calling for early
elections, and said his plans are “of defeat and submission to the
Zionist enemy.” Ismail Radwan, a Hamas spokesman said that Hamas
will not be driven into a civil war by Fatah or the United
The Imperialist powers, U.S., Europe and Israel, support Abbas because
he favors a two-state solution to the occupation by Israel. In
a typical imperialist tactic to set one group against another to
promote instability in an area, Condoleeza Rice, U.S. Secretary of
State announced she will request tens of millions of dollars from
congress to assist Abbas security forces. Tony Blair, British Prime
Minister, who is in the Middle East for meetings with Israeli leader
Olmert, promised a package of assistance to go through Abbas
office as well.
December 17 saw increased violence between the two factions, with most
of the violence occurring in Gaza, at least three people killed and
many wounded. A truce was reached early on Monday (12/18).
It is hoped that the Fatah and Hamas factions will resume talks to
form a unity government that is suitable to the people of
Palestine whether or not it is agreeable to Israel and its allies.
Mouin Rabbani, a senior analyst with the International Crisis
Group, at research group on foreign policy, says that progress will be
possible based only on political consensus, even if the West doesnt
love the result. Rabbani went on to say The international
community may have preferences, but this practice of trying to make
progress on the basis of divisions in the Palestinian national
movement has backfired spectacularly.