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Abbas Elite Officer Killed Hours After New Elections Call

A member of the elite Palestinian Authority Force 17 presidential guard was killed in Gaza Sunday in a dawn raid less than a day after Fatah and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas called new elections.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 12/17/2006, 12:59 PM / Last Update: 12/17/2006, 8:57 AM

The guard was shot by a group of masked gunmen wearing Hamas uniforms at the entrance to a Force 17 camp in Gaza City, according to the Reuters news service.

The killing was followed by a 20-minute rampage in the camp, with the attackers setting fire to tents and shooting at unit members trapped inside. At least five presidential guards were wounded in the shootout, said PA security sources.

Attackers fired an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) at an electrical transformer, knocking out power to the camp, and hurled mortar bombs at the guards.

The gunmen fled when Force 17 reinforcements arrived on the scene. It was the first time an attack was launched against the elite 3,500-member unit.

Hamas denied any involvement in the attack. Abu Ubaida, a spokesman for one of Hamas’ terror gangs, told the Reuters news service, “This is a wrong and irresponsible accusation.”

In a statement following Abbas’s announcement Saturday that he intended to dissolve the government, PA parliament chairman Dr. Khaled Al-Haya said that the Fatah leader had declared war not only on Hamas, but on Allah (G-d). Another senior Hamas official, PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud A-Zahar, said Abbas had ‘declared a civil war” and suggested elections be held for the chairman’s job instead.

“The Palestinian government rejects this call for early elections and considers it a coup against Palestinian legitimacy and the will of the Palestinian people,” said a Hamas PA spokesman.

The terror group said it would not allow new elections to be held, but did not say how it would prevent that from happening.

Abbas made the announcement following months of fruitless efforts to form a unity government with the Hamas leadership that would meet demands by the international community in order to resume its flow of funds to the cash-strapped PA. Each time it seemed the talks were nearing a successful conclusion, the same sticking point arose: Hamas’s continued refusal to formally acknowledge the State of Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence and uphold agreements with Israel signed by the previous PA administration.

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