Direktlänk till inlägg 31 maj 2009


Av K - 31 maj 2009 20:49

Police raid sparks West Bank clash

The house raided by police from the Palestinian Authority at dawn on Sunday [AFP]

Three Palestinian police officers, two Hamas fighters and a bystander have been killed in a clash in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian security officials have said.

Sunday's confrontation is among the deadliest factional fighting since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Police from the Palestinian Authority carried out a dawn raid on a house in the northern West Bank town of Qalqilya in order to arrest Hamas members, sparking a gun battle in the streets, police said.

The two dead Hamas members were named as Mohammad Samman, a local leader of Hamas's military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and Mohammad Yasin, a brigade member.

The policemen were not immediately identified. The owner of the home also died.

In depth
Video: Factional violence
Video: Factional fighting
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Witnesses said Samman and Yasin had taken refuge in the house.

Qalqiliya has since been put under curfew.

"These kinds of clashes have happened in the past, but these are by far the most serious in the West Bank," Al Jazeera's Nour Odeh, reporting from Ramallah, said.

Tensions have mounted between Fatah, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas, which controls Gaza.

Egypt, which is trying to broker a reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, has set July 7 as the deadline for its efforts.

Deep divisions

Hamas decried the killing over mosque loudspeakers in Gaza City.

Fawzi Barhum, a Hamas spokesman, said there was no chance of further reconciliation talks with Fatah after the "escalation by security services of Abu Mazen [Abbas] and Fatah against Hamas and its leaders in the West Bank".

He said: "Fatah should choose - dialogue with us or doing the dirty work of the Zionist enemy."

Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin in Gaza said "confidence between Hamas and Fatah is really at an all time low".

Abu Obeida, centre, said Fatah had crossed a 'red line' by carrying out the operation [AFP]"After today's incident involving the killings and tit-for-tat accusations, very strong words came out from Salah al-Bardawil who is also a leading member of Hamas and the parliamentary block in the Gaza strip.

"He came out and said that Hamas was going to carefully reconsider withdrawing from those talks and that would be a devastating blow not only to the Palestinian people but really to the Arab world who had really pinned so much of their hopes to the talks."

Mohyeldin reported that thousands of people had gathered in protest, including Hamas leaders like Ismael Radwan who "condemned the attack on the military wing members in the city of Qalqilya".

"The rally was attended by several other Palestinian actors all of whom were calling the act by the Palestinian Authority security forces an act of treason and one of collaboration with Israeli security forces.

"They have been pointing to the recent round-up of Hamas members in the West Bank, including one incident in the city of Hebron, where a member of that military wing of the resistance group was also killed by Israeli security forces.

"Many here pointed the finger towards the Palestinian Authority security forces for tipping off the Israelis. Those are very strong words of accusations and only do nothing but to divide the Palestinians even more and that's the reality that many people here are finding themselves in ..."

'Zionist forces'

Abu Obeida, an al-Qassam Brigades spokesman, accused Abbas's forces of playing into Israeli hands by mounting the raid.

"They gave to the Zionist forces more than what the Zionist forces could do," he said.

"We call on the Palestinian people in the West Bank to reject and denounce these acts of the suspicious personnel and to confront and stand up for these high treasons ... the blood of those martyred in Qalqiliya will remain a curse and we hold Mahmoud Abbas with direct responsibility."

"We call on the Palestinian people in the West Bank to reject and denounce these acts of the suspicious personnel and to confront and stand up for these high treasons"

Abu Obeida, al-Qassam Brigades spokesman

But the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been quick to deny accusations that Israeli forces were involved in the attack.

Adnan Damiri, the PA spokesperson, said that security forces tried to prevent casualties in the densely populated neighborhoods of Qalqilya by attempting to engage Hamas in dialogue, but that their offer was refused.

He said that during the arrest, police discovered Hamas leaflets containing "incitement against the Palestinian Authority and against the Palestinian security branches".

"We consider what happened today as very dangerous," Damiri said. "It was an attempt to destroy any hope of resuming the  (reconciliation) dialogue."

'Politically motivated'

Hamas says that Fatah-dominated security forces are pursuing a politically motivated crackdown against Hamas activists, a claim which Fatah has also made about Hamas in Gaza.

But Damiri said: "We in the Palestinian security branches are not a political force. We are security. We will not allow any Palestinian party to have guns and threaten civilians."

Referring to the Qalqiliya clashes, our correspondent reported: "None of the neighbours or witnesses we spoke to said or confirmed that they saw or heard Israeli forces.

"There were additional troops called in from nearby cities that were not separated from Qalqilya by Israeli checkpoints - in other words, there was no security co-ordination with the Israelis - at least, that we know of.

"This was a purely Palestinian-on-Palestinian operation."

Arrests claimed

According to Hamas, 22 of its members were arrested in the West Bank on Saturday.

Abu Obeida held a news conference in Gaza City on Saturday in response to the raid.

Hamas said Fatah had crossed a "red line" by carrying out the operation.

Our correspondent said that over the the past several months, Palestinian security forces have announced and shown tapes of confiscated weapons in mosques in Qalqilya.

"They have refrained up until this incident from pointing the finger at Hamas, but in line with PA policy, the security apparatus has been uncompromising in making sure that no one carries guns except security personnel," she said.


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