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Lawlessness Prevails in Gaza ? Situation Worsens

Shooting incidents between rival Fatah and Hamas factions in Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled Gaza have become daily occurrences.
By Yechiel Spira
First Publish: 5/17/2006, 7:15 AM

On Tuesday, one man, identified with Hamas, was shot dead as he walked on a Gaza City Street. Elsewhere, in Khan Yunis, at least one man was wounded by gunfire, reportedly by rival Fatah faction members. During the past week, a number of people were killed in the rival faction gun battles, including children. Since the Hamas government came to power, tensions with the now-deposed Fatah Party have increased. Security has been beefed up for leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), with PA intelligence authorities reporting they have information that opponents to his Fatah Party plan to assassinate him.

The exchanges of fire in the streets continue despite statements to the media by Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) that the government is in control.

Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah, who heads the Hamas-led administration, continues to release statements to the press that lawlessness will not be tolerated, vowing to treat armed residents as law-breakers.

Prior to Ariel Sharon's expulsion of Jews from Gaza this past August, opponents to the Disengagement Plan, including senior defense and intelligence community experts, warned that lawlessness would follow an Israeli pullout from the area, and rocket attacks against Israel would continue.

Israel warned the enemy before the summer pullout from Gaza that a continuation of rocket attacks into pre-1967 Green Line Israel would result in a harsh response, promising there would be “zero tolerance” for such a situation.

Kassam rocket attacks into the western Negev area have become daily occurrences, increasing in intensity, with Israeli artillery responding by firing into empty fields in northern Gaza areas. Those fields are frequently used to launch the Kassam attacks. Asked why the army fires into empty fields, an IDF spokesman replied, "We fire at these fields for an entire day, and It keeps them away for the duration of the fire."