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Gaza border shots 'targeted PM'
by BBC (reposted)
Thursday Dec 14th, 2006 6:53 PM
Hamas says the shooting on the convoy of the Palestinian prime minister at a Gaza border post was an assassination attempt by a rival faction.
Ismail Haniya's convoy came under fire when it was allowed to cross, after being held there for several hours.

A bodyguard was killed and Mr Haniya's son was shot in the face as the fire fight erupted at the Rafah checkpoint.

Border guards allied to President Abbas' Fatah faction, exchanged fire with Mr Haniya's security forces.

His convoy came under fire after the crossing was closed by Israel and angered Hamas militants, waiting to welcome him on the Gaza side, stormed the crossing point, overwhelming the border guards.

Chaotic scenes

The BBC's Alan Johnston in Gaza said that during chaotic scenes gunfire rattled around the entrance hall to the customs hall as Mr Haniya's bodyguards shielded him.

He said the incident, as the jeep Mr Haniya was travelling in manoeuvred to avoid the bullets, was captured on television cameras.

"The bodyguard to Ismail Haniya was killed during an assassination attempt," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

Mr Haniya had been prevented from crossing into Gaza and held at the border point for almost eight hours.

Israel closed its border saying that the tens of millions of dollars Mr Haniya was carrying as he returned from a foreign trip would fund "terrorist operations".

Mr Haniya crossed late on Thursday, following hours of intense negotiations, leaving the money on the Egyptian side with his aides.

Early elections?

Mr Haniya had been due to return to Gaza on Thursday after cutting short his first trip abroad as prime minister to deal with mounting tensions between his Hamas group and rivals Fatah.

Inter-faction tensions have increased since the killing of three sons of a pro-Fatah security chief on Monday.

President Mahmoud Abbas has spoken of the possibility of fresh elections.

by reposted
Thursday Dec 14th, 2006 7:38 PM
RAFAH, Gaza Strip — Hamas gunmen seized control of the Gaza Strip's border crossing with Egypt on Thursday in a ferocious gunbattle with Fatah-allied border guards after Israel blocked the Hamas prime minister from crossing with tens of millions of dollars in aid.

Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was eventually allowed to cross without the estimated $35 million cash but on the Gaza side of the border, his convoy came under intense fire from Fatah gunmen and one of his bodyguards was killed. Hamas said the gunmen had been aiming to kill the prime minister.

"The bodyguard to Ismail Haniyeh was killed during an assassination attempt," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

More than two dozen people were wounded in the fighting, deepening factional violence that has pushed the rivals closer to civil war. One of the injured was Haniyeh's 27-year-old son, Abed.

Haniyeh cut short a trip abroad and was trying to return to Gaza in a bid to quell the infighting between Hamas and Fatah. He was carrying the cash for his government which has been bankrupted by international sanctions to punish Hamas for refusing to renounce its violent, anti-Israel ideology. Other government officials before Haniyeh have carried in millions of dollars of cash in suitcases across the same border point.