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Thu May 17 2007 (Updated 05/21/07) Violence Engulfs Gaza
Following the killing of a senior Fatah leader on Sunday May 13th, violence erupted throughout the Gaza Strip. Two attempted ceasefires collapsed within hours and fighting between Fatah and Hamas has resulted in dozens of deaths, threatening to shatter the two factions' unity government.

On May 15th, seven members of Fatah security forces were killed near Karni crossing when their jeep was hit by a rocket alleged to be fired by Hamas militants. The following day, the home of Fatah security chief, Rashid Abu Shbak was besieged by Hamas gunmen and at least five of Abu Shbak's body guards were killed.

Tony Karon writes for Uruknet:
The Fatah gunmen who are reported to have initiated the breakdown of the Palestinian unity government and provoked the latest fighting may profess fealty to President Abbas, but it’s not from him that they get their orders. The leader to whom they answer is Mohammed Dahlan....[W]hile the hapless Abbas is little more than a reluctant passenger in Washington’s strategy...Mohammed Dahlan is its point man... Dahlan appears to have made his move when it came to the unity government's agreement to integrate the Palestinian Authority security forces (currently dominated by Fatah) by drawing in Hamas fighters and subjecting the forces to the control of a politically neutral interior minister. Dahlan simply refused, and set off the current confrontations by ordering his men out onto the street last weekend without any authorization from the government of which he is supposedly a part. The new provocation appears consistent with a revised U.S. plan, reported on by Mark Perry and Paul Woodward, that emphasized the urgency of toppling the unity government. They suggest the plan emanates from Abrams, who they say is operating at cross purposes with Condi Rice’s efforts to appease the Arab moderate regimes by reviving some form of peace process.

Hamas-Fatah ceasefire comes after bloody week | Palestinian Pinochet Making His Move? | Palestinians agree new ceasefire | Fatah claims Hamas ambush on camp | Fresh killings shatter Gaza truce | Democracy Now: How Recent Fighting in Gaza Has Paralyzed Civilian Life | Laila El-Haddad writing from Gaza City: As Gaza Burns | Rising death toll in Gaza | SOS from Palestine

Israel is intervening in the factional strife with the explicit aim of eliminating Hamas as a military and political force; a senior Israeli cabinet official has even called for all Hamas leaders to be killed. Israeli air strikes have killed over thirty civilians in the past few days, with some of the attacks appearing to be assassination attempts. Hamas has fired one hundred and forty Qassam rockets into Israel in the past week, but so far only one person has died as a result.

More civilian deaths in Gaza | Hamas has learned from the Second Lebanon War | Israel stokes up Hamas-Fatah strife in Gaza, considers ground invasion | Israeli minister issues death threat to Hamas leaders | 13 killed in 6th day of Gaza offensive | Israel hits Hamas politician home | Israel's Offensive in Gaza: 23 Palestinians Killed and 86 Wounded | Israel hits Gaza security compound | Western officials ask Israel to help Abbas fight Hamas | Israel continues Gaza air strikes | Gazans: Death Strikes from Everywhere

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