Friday, February 02, 2007

Iran gets involved in Palestinian "politics"

And now a round-up of reports on Palestinian internal "political and academic" activity

...first from The Australian, 3/2/07, by Abraham Rabinovich ...

Iranians seized in attack on Hamas enclave

JERUSALEM: Seven Iranian weapons experts were seized yesterday in a raid by Fatah-affiliated security forces on the Islamic University, a Hamas stronghold in Gaza eighth Iranian was reported to have committed suicide rather than be taken prisoner.... the Iranians included intelligence and chemical experts and a senior military officer.

The Israeli news site Y-Net quoted a Palestinian source as saying the officer was a general.
Although Hamas and Islamic Jihad are known to have sent agents to Iran for training, this is the first report of Iranian personnel in the Palestinian territories.

....Israel has long claimed members of the Iranian Republican Guard are posted in Lebanon to train Hezbollah fighters.

Violence between Hamas and Fatah has claimed almost 70 lives and left hundreds wounded since last month....

From Reuters, 2/2/07, by Nidal al-Mughrabi ...

GAZA (Reuters) - Fighting between rival Palestinian factions escalated across Gaza on Friday, killing at least 17 people, as Hamas overran compounds used by President Mahmoud Abbas's forces and two major universities were set ablaze.

...Residents of the narrow coastal Gaza Strip, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, hid in their homes instead of attending Friday prayers as the rivals fought running gunbattles with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades from streets and rooftops....."Gaza is being burned down," Arafat Abu Eyad said from his smoke-filled balcony overlooking smoldering buildings.....

Nine fighters loyal to Abbas, four Hamas gunmen and four civilians, including two children, were killed on Friday in a second day of clashes in Gaza that shattered a three-day-old truce between Fatah and the ruling Islamist movement.

Unidentified gunmen also shot at a vehicle carrying Fatah officials, wounding eight people, Palestinian security sources said. Near the West Bank town of Nablus, unidentified militants shot and wounded a Hamas gunman, security sources there said.

At least 23 Palestinians have been killed and more than 200 wounded in the last 24 hours of internecine fighting....

....Hours after Fatah gunmen set ablaze Islamic University, a Hamas stronghold, explosions and fires ripped through the nearby campus of al-Quds University, a Fatah bastion. Hamas denied any involvement in the al-Quds attack.

Hamas also pounded a base used by Abbas's presidential guard with mortar bombs and took it over. Hamas said it seized weapons at the base before setting it on fire.

Ashraf Reziq, who lives a block from the Islamic University, said nobody felt safe. "Gaza has turned into a city of ghosts," the 22-year-old said. "No one is in the streets ... if we have one thing at all, it is fear."

From Ynet News, 2/2/07, by Ali Waked .....

A ceasefire agreed upon by the two rival factions earlier this week collapsed on Thursday, touching off deadly clashes that claimed the lives of 25 people, including four children. Hospital officials said were running out of blood to treat the wounded, who numbered 250....

.... Four Fatah-affiliated security officers, including the intelligence commander in the northern Gaza Strip, who were killed Friday morning in battles with Hamas members in the Gaza Strip. A Hamas member was killed later Friday.

Palestinian officials said an 11-year-old child and the wife of a Palestinian security officer were also among the casualties. A five- and an eight-year-old were also killed.

On Thursday evening, six Palestinians were killed as Fatah-affiliated security officers raided the Islamic University in Gaza, a Hamas stronghold, and arrested at least five Iranian agents.

Fatah officials claimed soon after the raid that the Iranian agents were dispatched by Tehran to Gaza to assist Hamas in building up it military wing and manufacture sophisticated weapons.

Hamas members responded with a counter attack on Friday morning during which over a dozen posts belonging to the Palestinian security forces were seized. Fatah-affiliated security officers were held hostage, and some posts were demolished.

Eyewitnesses reported that during the Hamas raid, heavy exchanges of fire erupted in the Saraya compound, near Abbas' office. The headquarters of most Palestinian security organizations are located in the compound, where Hamas claims Fatah is storing weapon shipments.

...On Thursday evening, before the university raid, Hamas gunmen ambushed what the Islamist group said was a convoy carrying weapons to Abbas' presidential guard unit in the Gaza Strip.

Six Fatah members were killed, more than 70 people were injured and at least 12 gunmen of both rival factions were kidnapped in ensuing clashes.

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