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Mon Dec 18 2006 Palestine In Crisis
Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah president of the Palestinian Authority, has announced that he will dissolve the recently elected parliament and call new presidential and parliamentary elections. Abbas aide Yasser Abed Rabbo told Associated Press that the president would set the date within a week, and that new elections would be held within three months.

World Socialist Website Writes: The move is an unconstitutional attempt to unseat the Hamas-led government that has been engineered by the United States and Israel. It threatens to precipitate a full-scale civil war. Washington and Jerusalem also have the backing of European powers and are being aided and abetted by the Arab regimes Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf States.

A Counterproductive U.S. Advice to Palestinians | Abbas receives Blair's backing | Blair backs gamble on elections by Palestinian leader | Abbas calls for Palestinian poll | Abbas mulls early elections | Thousands attend Gaza rally calling for Haniyeh to remain PM | Hamas dismisses resignation call

Since the Palestinian elections on January 25th brought Hamas to power, Fatah, the US and Israel have been working to destabilize the democratically-elected government. Following the elections, in the spring, Israel began a process of starving Gaza via blockade . Israel also encouraged the international community to cease aid to the Palestinian Authority and in the summer and autumn, Israel launched two massive military campaigns in Gaza, resurrecting its mid-Intifada policy of overtly destroying official Palestinian Authority infrastructure -- now under the control of Hamas -- targeting ministry building after ministry building and plunging the wider population into chaos with massive demolitions of civilian infrastructure including bridges, roads, and power plants. more

Tension between Fatah and Hamas has escalated due to a failure to reach an agreement on the formation of a national unity government. Such tension has been demonstrated in an escalation in attacks and violent actions in various areas in the Occupied Territories.

On December 14th, thousands of Hamas' supporters, escorted by armed members of the Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas) and the Executive Force of the Ministry of Interior, broke into Rafah International Crossing Point, which is guarded by the Palestinian Presidential Security Forces, when they heard news that Israel closed the crossing point in order to prevent Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya from traveling back to the Gaza Strip. Armed clashes erupted between the raiders and the Presidential Security Forces. As a result of these clashes, 13 persons (three children, four members of the Presidential Security Forces, two members of the Executive Force and four civilians) were wounded. At approximately 22:30 also on Thursday, when Prime Minister Haniya left the arrival hall of the crossing point, his convoy was fired at from an unknown source. One of his bodyguards was killed, and his son and one of his advisors were wounded.
Democracy Now: Palestinian PM Haniyeh Comes Under Attack; Clashes Break Out | Hamas accuses rival of PM attack | Gaza border shots 'targeted PM' | Israel blocks Palestinian PM Haniyeh's return to Gaza

On December 15, tension escalated between the two sides and some Palestinian towns witnessed demonstrations that were characterized by the presence of gunmen and exchanges of fire. In Ramallah, members of the Presidential Security Forces and gunmen wearing civilian clothes attacked a demonstration organized by Hamas' supporters near Jamal Abdul Nassser Mosque following the Friday Prayer. At least 30 people were injured.

On December 16th, both Fatah and Hamas organized demonstrations in most areas in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Armed persons from the two movements were intensively deployed in the streets, which led to armed clashes between the two sides. A number of persons were wounded.

On December 17th, an armed group stormed a training site of the Presidential Security Forces in the south of Gaza City. The group fired live bullets and RBJ ammunition at the site, killing a security man. A few hours later, a number of gunmen broke into offices of the Ministries of Agriculture and Transportation in Gaza City and closed them. Later, a number of gunmen fired at the convoy of Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahhar. Tension has spread over the OPT, and there are serious concerns of further escalation in internal violence.

On December 18th a cease fire was agreed between Hamas and Fatah, but gun battles continued continued into the evening in one of the worst days of fratricidal violence in the Gaza Strip. Walid Awad, a spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party, said Fatah and Hamas had agreed to withdraw all armed men from the streets of Gaza and the West Bank. They also agreed to release all the people they had kidnapped from each other. Under the deal, negotiations for a national unity coalition would resume and all demonstrations have been prohibited for the foreseeable future. more

Hamas and Fatah clash in Gaza City | Gunmen kill Hamas-linked judge | Rival forces trade gunfire in Gaza | Gunmen kill children of Hamas critic

Palestinian Human Rights Groups Call for National Dialogue | Hamas and Fatah clash in Gaza City | 'This looks like civil war' - Palestinians battle on the streets | Electronic Intifada: Palestine on the brink of civil war? | Al-Ahram: Damage limitation


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