Friday, December 15, 2006

High Noon in Ramallah

Chaos and mayhem are not peculiar to just the Gaza Strip. Ramallah is experiencing open gun battles in the streets reports Ynet News:
Twenty Palestinians were wounded, two critically, in exchanges of fire between warring factions in the Palestinian Authority Friday. Sixteen people were wounded in Ramallah, four in Gaza. Fatah officials reported that several Hamas gunmen have barricaded themselves in the Nazer mosque in the city of Ramallah and are firing at Fatah and Palestinian security forces inside the mosque compound.

Witnesses added that PA security forces have begun covering their faces with masks as they try to overpower protestors and gunmen from both factions, mostly against Hamas. The atmosphere in the city is reminiscent of a battlefield say residents, against the soundtrack of massive gunfire. In Ramallah reports say that the Palestinian government has begun training a special security force in the West Bank which will answer directly to the government, similar to the one formed in Gaza which operates under the direct command of the minister of the interior.

According to a Fatah source it would appear that Hamas is seeking to emphasize that the movement also has power and presence in Ramallah – the largest West Bank city and home to President Mahmoud Abbas. The Fatah official expressed concern that further deterioration of the situation will cost many lives.

Witnesses told Ynet that some of the wounded are bystanders and protestors who were beaten by Palestinian security forces seeking to clear the streets, primarily from the center of town which was declared a closed military zone.
The Jerusalem Post is reporting the injured toll from the clashes in the streets of Ramallah now stands at 32.

Meanwhile Hamas trades threats with Fatah and points fingers at Dahlan for the attack on Hamas leader Haniyeh’s convoy yesterday. Taken from the Jerusalem Post account:
The street battles came amid Hamas accusations that senior Palestinian official Mohammed Dahlan orchestrated the previous night's assassination attempt on Hanieyeh that left a 24-year-old bodyguard dead and others wounded, including Haniyeh's own son, Abdel Salam, and his political adviser, Ahmed Yousef. Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Ismail Reduan said that Dahlan had planned the attempted hit as he led the group of Presidential Guard members who raked the convoy with gunfire.

During a press conference in Gaza, Reduan said that Dahlan was leading incitement against Hamas in order to enflame the Palestinian streets and cause a civil war. He called on Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw his Presidential Guard and Fatah's Force 17 from the Rafah Crossing and the streets of Gaza. Dahlan denied the accusation and said that those to blame for the attack were the gunmen who stormed the Rafah Crossing. He claimed that Hamas was trying to cover up this week's killing of three children of Fatah members.

Reuters has just posted an online account suggesting that Fatah forces have opened fire at a Hamas led rally in the West Bank.

The Terror Match of the century and there are no good guys to cheer on to victory.

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