Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The MSM hasn't caught up with the Civil War in Gaza

12 wounded in gun battles throughout Gaza
Khaled Abu Toameh, THE JERUSALEM POST Mar. 20, 2006

At least 12 Palestinians were wounded in fierce gun battles that erupted in various parts of the Gaza Strip on Monday between Palestinian policemen and disgruntled Fatah militiamen.


Eyewitnesses said most of those wounded in Monday's fighting in the Gaza Strip were policemen who tried to prevent Fatah gunmen from taking over government buildings and security installations. The two sides exchanged gunfire for several hours in scenes that many Palestinians said were reminiscent of the civil war in Lebanon in the 1970s.

The gunmen, according to PA security sources, belonged to Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. However, the group issued a statement on Monday night denying any connection to the fighting, saying some militiamen had used its name as a cover. The attackers said they were protesting against the PA's failure to provide them with jobs and money.

The armed clashes started at around nine-thirty a.m., when members of a large group of masked gunmen opened fire at police officers on Salah Eddin Street in the center of Gaza City.

Two officers and three passersby were injured in the attack. The gunmen blocked the road and planted a number of explosive devices, preventing the convoy of Police Chief Ala Hosni from heading toward the Erez crossing.

The fighting lasted for over an hour. Later, several police officers stormed Balsam Hospital in Beit Lahia and opened fire indiscriminately and took one of their wounded friends to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

The clashes then spread to other parts of Gaza City as scores of Fatah gunmen attacked public institutions. One of the gangs stormed the electricity generation facility north of Nusairat refugee camp in the center of the Gaza Strip. The gunmen stormed the facility under heavy gunfire in an effort to pressure the PA to hire them as police officers.

Policemen who rushed to the scene exchanged fire with the gunmen for nearly two hours. The clash resulted in the injury of a National Security Force officer, Na'el Abu Khadra, 25, from Nusairat refugee camp, who was hit with a bullet to the abdomen. He was evacuated to the al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, where his condition was described as serious.

The electricity plant has come under several attacks by armed Fatah militiamen over the past few months. The last attack was last week, when a number of gunmen raided the facility, requesting jobs.

Fatah gunmen also blocked the road leading to the government compound, which includes the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in al-Rimal neighborhood in Gaza City. They surrounded the compound for several hours, claiming that they had not received their salaries for several months.

The attackers took position on the roof of buildings and opened fire at police forces, injuring two officers.


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