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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Gunmen shoot up parliament, enter Abbas's compound

Shavua tov everyone!

The week started with a bang in Ramallah - literally. Put this one under "Palestinian Civil War Watch."

Hundreds of Fatah activists, angry at their party's election defeat, entered the compound of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday to pray at the grave of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

The group, which included several gunmen, were allowed into the compound by guards and peacefully proceed toward Arafat's tomb in an empty lot inside. Abbas' security force formed a cordon around the activists to prevent them from approaching the nearby building that holds the Palestinian leader's office.

Outside the compound, known as the muqaata, some of the militants shot in the air and chanted: "We came to you Abu Amar to forgive us for what happened." Abu Amar was Arafat's nickname.

Jibril Rajoub, Abbas' national security adviser who was among the protesters, warned Hamas not to tamper with the security forces.

"The security forces will stay. Hamas has no power meddling with the security forces," he said.

Earlier Saturday, thousands of angry Fatah activists, led by masked gunmen firing wildly in the air, marched in the West Bank on Saturday, demanding the resignation of party leaders.

Dozens of them made their way into the Palestinian parliament building in Ramallah Saturday afternoon and began shooting in different directions.

Some of the gunmen said they would no longer observe an informal cease-fire with Israel.

In the city of Nablus, about 2,000 Fatah members marched through the streets, led by dozens of gunmen from the Fatah-allied Al Aksa Martyrs' Brigades, who climbed aboard the back of a truck and fired in the air.

"Al Aksa, from Rafah to Jenin, has stopped the cease-fire," one of the gunmen aboard the truck, Nasser Haras, told the crowd. "We are now no longer part of the cease-fire."

Following bloody clashes Friday night and Saturday morning between his group and Fatah, Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Hania, told his followers Saturday morning that, "weapons should be turned only against Israel.

"Our battle is not against our own people," he added.

The statement came after Hamas gunmen ambushed a Palestinian police patrol early Saturday, wounding two officers, Gaza police said.

The shooting in the southern town of Khan Younis came just hours after an exchange of fire between Hamas gunmen and police in the same area. A Hamas gunman and two policemen were wounded in the firefight. One of the officers was shot in the head and chest, and later died of his wounds, Army Radio reported.

Didn't Abbas once tell us that he couldn't disarm Hamas?


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