New Internal fighting between Hamas and Fatah broke out Sunday, May 13, killing 50 Palestinians in Gaza. In addition, military exchanges between Hamas and Israel occurred throughout the week. In total, 38 Palestinians died this past week as a result of Israeli air strikes; 25 were militants and 13 were civilians. In contrast, one Israeli has died this week as a result of the Qassam rocket attacks.
On Monday, May 21, a rocket killed an Israeli woman in the town of Sderot in southern Israel. She was the first Israeli death from a rocket since November 2006. In addition to the death, 16 Israelis have been injured this past week as a result of rocket attacks. Many of Sderot’s residents have left the town and sought refuge in Jerusalem.
In addition to trading missile fire, both Israel and Hamas have traded harsh words and threats. Both parties have refused to negotiate a cease fire. Hamas rejected Abbas’ call to stop firing rockets and return ti the cease-fire agreement in place prior to the recent outbreak in fighting; as Israeli air strikes continue. In addition to continuing military action, Israel has vowed to widen their list of targets to include Hamas’ poltical leaders, such as Palestinian Prime Minister Haniya. On Wednesday, May 23, senior Israeli officials stated tha hte military will target terrorist infrastructure within Gaza, effectively rejecting the notion that a unilateral cease-fire by Hama will divert any increase in military action in Gaza.
During an Israeli security cabinet meeting on Sunday, May 20, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert authorized the military to take action against Hamas leaders in the West Bank, as well as Gaza. Then late-Wednesday and early Thursday, May 23 and 24, raids occurred throughout the Westbank, where over 30 Hamas officials were arrested/ Chief among the arrested was the Palestinian Education Minister, Naser el-Deen al Shaer. Also arrested were three parliament members, a top official in the PA Interior Ministery, and hte mayors of Nablus, Kalkilya, Bidya, and El-Bireh. In addition to the arrest, the IDF also shut down 10 Hamas offices in towns throughout the West Bank, including Jenin, Ramallah, Nablus, and Bethlehem.
While a fragile cease-fice exists between Hamas and Fatah since last Sunday, no resolution to this new violence between Israel and Hamas is in sight. By the actions and words of the parties, neither seem willing to negotiate and it appears as though both parties are set to destroy the other.
For more information, please see:
BBC: “Israel hits Hamas politician home” 21 May 2007.
BBC: “Israel strikes at Hamas in Gaza” 23 May 2007.
BBC: “Militants reject Gaza truce call” 24 May 2007.
ME Times: “Abbas calls for truce, Israel seizes Hamas officials” 24 May 2007.
Al-Jazeera: “Israel arrests 30 Hamas officials” 24 May 2007.
CNN: “More wounded as Israel steps up strikes against Hamas” 24 May 2007.
Jerusalem Post: “500 Sderot residents find temporary peace in Jerusalem” 24 May 2007.
Jerusalem Post: “Hamas threatens to up resistence” 24 May 2007.
Jerusalem Post: “IDF arrests Hamas education minister” 24 May 2007.