This is What Anarchy Looks Like
Israel hits Hamas during Gaza fighting
By SARAH EL DEEB
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Israeli warplanes pummeled Hamas targets Friday in a stepped-up campaign against militants firing rockets into southern Israel, while Palestinian factions battled with automatic weapons and grenades at a Gaza university.
Street battles between Fatah and Hamas remained less intense than the heavy fighting that terrorized Gaza City two days earlier, but a truce agreement late Thursday enjoyed no more success than previous cease-fires declared this week.
With the political leaders of the factions seemingly not in control of their gunmen, Hamas militiamen raised the internal strife to an ominous new level by widening their targets beyond armed rivals and seizing aides to two Fatah officials.
The infighting that began Sunday has killed more than 50 Palestinians and wounded dozens, while the death toll from Israeli attacks rose to 20 as airstrikes killed eight people Friday.
Israeli missiles came screeching down at least five times in retaliation for Hamas rocket attacks that have panicked people in southern Israel. At least 13 more militant rockets fell, wounding four Israelis in the battered town of Sderot.
Despite the escalating air campaign, a senior Israeli army officer said there were no immediate plans for a major ground offensive against rocket teams. [...]
One airstrike incinerated a minivan carrying Hamas militants and what the Israeli army described as "a large amount of weapons." Three fighters were killed and 12 people were wounded, Palestinian hospital officials said.
"We were sitting outside my grocery store when a huge explosion shook the area and a small minivan turned into a ball of fire," Jawad Dallou said. People in a nearby mourning tent also were wounded, he said.
An earlier airstrike east of Gaza City killed five Palestinians, including at least three Hamas militants, and wounded six. Israel's military said the target was a Hamas headquarters building. [...]
Hamas said the Israeli military had called the home of Ahmed Jaabari, head of Hamas' military wing, and warned his family the house would be hit. People gathered around the building to discourage an attack, he said. The Israeli military had no comment.
The fighting between Hamas and Fatah all but destroyed a power-sharing government formed two months ago in hopes of ending nearly a year of periodic clashes between the rival groups.
The latest bloodshed was touched off by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah to deploy thousands of security officers in Gaza City last week to try to restore law and order. Hamas called that a provocation because it wasn't consulted and fighting broke out Sunday. [...]
Bullets and rocket-propelled grenades flew outside Islamic University, a Hamas stronghold, as Hamas fighters battled Fatah gunmen in the nearby Foreign Ministry building. Grenades hit the office of the school president, who appealed for an immediate halt to the violence. [...]
Although Israel said it wasn't taking sides, its airstrikes made it harder for Hamas gunmen to move around, and Hamas used that fact to argue that Fatah and Israel were in collusion.
Hamas TV named three Fatah security chiefs who it said were in secret contact with "foreign" security personnel. "They are deep into treason, and we will deal with them accordingly," the broadcast said.
The TV did not specify which foreigners, but Fatah forces affiliated with Abbas have received advice and training from the U.S., which lists Hamas as a terror group for killing more than 250 Israelis in attacks over the years.
Earlier in the week, some 500 Fatah security men trained in Egypt under a U.S.-brokered deal returned to Gaza, passing through the border with Israel's permission.
More by IBRAHIM BARZAK
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Israeli airstrikes targeted Hamas for a fifth straight day Saturday, hitting a rocket squad and two workshops in Gaza, and the defense minister warned militants who attack Israel they should be "very afraid."
But Defense Minister Amir Peretz also said now is not the time for a major Israeli ground offensive in the Gaza Strip. [...]
Days of Israeli air attacks on Hamas targets have coincided with a surge in deadly infighting between Hamas gunmen and rivals from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction. On Saturday, the two groups reached a new cease-fire deal, pledging to pull fighters off the streets and exchange hostages, officials from both sides said.
Previous truce agreements quickly collapsed in recent days, and it was not clear whether this one would hold. Failure to stanch the bloodshed would spell the end of the shaky power-sharing agreement Hamas and Fatah reached two months ago to end a previous round of internal strife. [...]
Israel launched its latest round of airstrikes on Tuesday to counter a stepped-up barrage of Hamas rockets on Israeli border towns. The militant group, which refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist, has fired nearly 120 rockets at southern Israel since Tuesday, the military said.
On Saturday, Israel missiles slammed into a rocket squad near the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, the army said.
Earlier in the day, missile strikes demolished two suspected Hamas metal workshops.
Saturday's two deaths brought to 22 the number of Palestinians killed in airstrikes in the past week.
Peretz warned militants involved in rocket operations should be "very afraid," because "it is our intention to act against Hamas."
"We are mainly focusing on sensitive locations tied to Hamas," he told Israel Radio, adding that these locations included rocket workshops. [...]
At the same time, he said Israel would not embark on a major offensive in the Gaza Strip because it had other, unspecified tools in its arsenal to use against rocket-launchers. [...]
Four rockets hit the border area Saturday, causing damage, but no injury. A day earlier, four Israelis were hurt in rocket attacks. [...]
The Israeli airstrikes have driven Hamas fighters out of their bases, prompting accusations that Israel is helping Fatah.
Peretz insisted Israel is not interfering in the internal fighting. However, he also said that "we certainly would like the moderate forces to emerge with the upper hand," a reference to Fatah. [...]
Abbas and Haniyeh, the most senior Hamas politician in Gaza, have so far failed to calm the situation, indicating they have largely lost control to the gunmen and their political patrons.
Typical Reuters headline: Israel hits Hamas targets, Gaza militants fire back.
No, dummy, as always it's "Gaza militants hit random civilian targets, Israel fires back."