Hamas and Fatah terrorists returned to the civil battlefront Sunday with a new round of internecine fighting - some of the worst to hit Gaza since the truce brokered two months ago by Egypt broke down.
By mid-morning, three men had been killed and at least 39 people had been wounded, nine critically. Last month, at least 50 PA residents were killed in similar militia wars. Two of the dead terrorists were members of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction. The third man was a member of the Hamas terrorist organization.
The locus of the fiercest fighting is the southern border town of Rafah, along the Egyptian Sinai border with Palestinian Authority-controlled Gaza.
Snipers took up positions on rooftops and behind buildings as loyalists of the government’s coalition partners prepared to resume their fight for control of the PA. Terrorists toting rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns in addition to other weapons spread out in an effort to take control of the strategic border town.
Security at the Rafah crossing, often referred to as Gaza’s international gateway, is monitored by European Union observers, who have been forced on more than one occasion to abandon their posts in fear for their lives.
Numerous terrorists smuggling money, arms and other contraband have made their way into Gaza from Egypt using tunnels that honeycomb the area under the town.
Control of the Rafah crossing was handed over by Israel to the PA in September 2005, one month after more than 8,000 Jews were expelled from their homes in the Gush Katif region of Gaza as part of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Disengagement from Gaza.