Hamas terrorists worried that situation with Fatah and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade rivals in Gaza becoming "dangerous"
April 2, 2006
Hamas to deal with shootingsby Mehdi Lebouachera in Gaza City02-04-2006 From: Agence France-Presse http://www.news.com.au/story/print/0,10119,18684926,00.html
HAMAS vowed overnight to bring the "dangerous" situation on the streets of Gaza under control as the Islamist faction faced its first internal crisis after only three days in government.Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniya vowed to end the security chaos "using law and order" and by "withdrawing armed civilians from the street to end this dangerous situation", he said.
The declarations came after clashes on Friday between militants and supporters of moderate Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas left three people dead and 36 wounded.
"There is an escalation against the Palestinian people aimed at breaking them and the government," Mr Haniya said.
"We ask all the countries in the world to assume their responsibility and face this escalation against our people," he said, adding that his internationally boycotted cabinet had met late into Friday night to monitor the situation.
"The dominant (gun) culture of the Palestinian street over the past few years needs some time to change to a culture of protecting order, discipline and the law," Mr Haniya said.
Friday's violence erupted after the commander of the Popular Resistance Committees was killed in a car bombing in central Gaza City that the militant group blamed on Mr Abbas's security chiefs in collusion with Israel.
But Samir Masharawi, a local leader from Abbas's Fatah faction that lost January's elections to Hamas but still largely retains control of the security services, said the onus was on Hamas to act.
"When we feel that the government is starting to work for all the Palestinian people and not just for one faction or party then we will cooperate to end the presence of weapons on the street," he told journalists.
The Palestinian parliament issued an appeal for calm and blamed Israel for the attack, though it did not present any evidence.
Israel has denied any involvement in the assassination.
"We appeal to the Palestinian people for calm and self-control," Palestinian Legislative Council deputy speaker Ahmed Bahar said.
"Less than 48 hours after the new Palestinian government began work, the Zionist occupying forces have continued their daily crimes ... and assassinated the commander of the Resistance Committees," Mr Bahar said.
Interior ministry spokesman Khaled Abu Hilal said his ministry was trying to defuse the crisis in Gaza, while highlighting the difference between renegade gunmen and "the resistance".
The ministry "makes a distinction between the arms of the resistance which we know who they're aimed at and the arms of chaos and crime and destabilisation.
"We have made contact with the concerned parties on the ground to dissipate the crisis ... and are continuing our work to defuse the crisis," he said.
Israeli artillery meanwhile bombarded a unilaterally declared no-go zone in the northern Gaza Strip after militants fired three rockets at Israel on Friday night, with fighter bombers hitting targets in Gaza City.
Four more rockets were fired on Saturday afternoon without causing any casualties, the army said, while the air force dropped propaganda pamphlets in Arabic on the territory.
"If the launching of rockets continues the military response will be increasingly tough," the pamphlets warned in the name of the Israeli military.
The militant faction Islamic Jihad said, in a statement, that it had launched three rockets at the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon.
A Katyusha rocket was fired from Gaza at southern Israel for the first time on Tuesday. Although it caused no injuries, Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said it was "a serious development which demanded a strong and decisive reaction".
Israel believes the Katyusha rocket was one of a batch smuggled into the Gaza Strip over its border with Egypt, a defence ministry spokesman said.
The Russian-manufactured Katyusha rockets can cause much more damage and have a greater range and accuracy than the makeshift rockets normally fired by militants based in the Palestinian territory.
The US State Department announced on Friday that Washington had suspended all contact with the Hamas-led government until it renounced violence and recognised Israel, but would maintain contact with the Palestinian Authority's representative in Washington.
Despite being behind the majority of suicide bombings during the five-year-old intifada, or uprising, Hamas has not carried out any attacks since it announced a temporary truce early last year.
The diplomatic quartet on the Middle East -- the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations -- was to meet in Amman on Sunday to discuss international aid for the Palestinian territories.
The quartet has also called on Hamas to renounce violence and its call for the destruction of the Israeli state, warning that international aid is at risk.