Thursday, February 1, 2007

Condoleezza's Birth Pangs In Gaza Intensifying

Gaza truce near collapse as four killed in clashes

".....In the central Gaza refugee camp Bureij, Hamas gunmen ambushed what the Islamic group alleged was a convoy carrying weapons from Egypt into the Gaza Strip, intended for the presidential guard.

Abbas's Fatah faction said the four-truck convoy, which set off from the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel, was carrying medical equipment and tents, and accused Hamas of plunging a 3-day-old Palestinian ceasefire into "grave danger".

The ceasefire had largely stopped a surge in internal fighting in the territory in which at least 34 Palestinians had been killed.

A battle raged between Hamas gunmen and presidential guards accompanying the convoy, according to residents in the area.

"A real war is taking place, gunmen are using the heaviest arms they have," a witness said.

Sources in the governing Hamas movement said the trucks were carrying weapons for the 4,000-man presidential guard, a force loyal to Abbas and his Fatah faction.

"Hamas's heroes have commandeered arms shipments that came through Kerem Shalom as part of the fight against the Palestinian people," a presenter on a Hamas radio station said.

Fatah spokesman Tawfiq Abu Khoussa said the convoy was carrying generators, tents and medical equipment.

"There are no weapons at all," Abu Khoussa told the Reuters news agency, adding the ambush "represented a grave danger to the continuation of the (ceasefire) agreement"

Asked about the convoy's cargo, a Palestinian security official declined to comment. A senior Israeli official said she knew trucks had entered the Gaza Strip but did not know their contents.

Palestinian gunmen opened fire at Hamas officials in two separate attacks early Thursday.

Early Thursday, unknown gunmen opened fire at Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum as he drove with three bodyguards in his white sedan toward an impromptu checkpoint near Gaza City, Hamas said. There were no casualties. A Hamas announcement blamed "coup-seekers," a reference to militants from the rival Fatah party.

"This is a violation of the [truce] agreement," Barhoum said. He reported the incident to Egyptian mediators and the gunmen removed their checkpoint, he said.

Later Thursday, gunmen in a car shot at Islam Shahwan, a spokesman for a Hamas militia, Shahwan said, blaming the shooting on Fatah-affiliated security officers. One Hamas member was wounded, he said....."

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