Gaza Infighting Leads to Assassination of Fatah Security Chief

The head of an elite security force controlled by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was assassinated Wednesday in a car explosion in Gaza.

Contact Editor
Hana Levi Julian, | updated: 21:33

Abbas’ Chief of Preventive Security Services in central Gaza, Nabil Hodhod, was killed and his deputy wounded in a blast that ripped through his car in central Gaza City, near Shifa Hospital. It was the second assassination attempt on security commanders in Gaza in less than a week.

Security sources quoted by The Associated Press said Hodhod had just entered his car when the bomb exploded. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the assassination, which came in the wake of bloody clashes between Fatah and Hamas.

The two rival factions have tried several times to rein in their members as the violence escalates into what some fear will become a full-scale civil war. The clashes have intensified and have become more frequent since last week, when the Hamas-led PA government established a 3,000-member paramilitary movement.

“The two groups urge their members, grassroots supporters and sympathizers to implement the agreement,” Samir al-Mashrawi said Wednesday. The Abbas loyalist spoke with reporters in Gaza after a six-hour round of talks between Hamas leader and PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Fatah head Abbas.

Abbas called on Haniyeh to disband the new force. Haniyeh as yet has refused to do so, choosing instead to integrate the unit into the regular police force.

“I will follow this issue in order to complete the legal procedures to integrate the force in the Palestinian police apparatus,” said Haniyeh.

A group of 1,000 former Fatah supporters marched Tuesday in Gaza City in support of the Hamas-led government. Khaled Abu Hilal, commander of the group, was disowned by Fatah, which denied any connected to the marchers. Hilal now serves as the spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry.

Earlier Wednesday three Hamas militants were grabbed by masked gunmen outside a mosque, shot and dumped at a gas station. One of the three later died at a hospital, bringing to nine the number of men who have died in the fighting so far this month. Two more Hamas members were wounded in a drive-by shooting, also in Gaza City.

Fatah and Hamas leaders plan to meet again for talks on Thursday in another attempt to stem the violence before it spirals completely out of control.