Gunmen stand in Gaza street on Tuesday
Photo: Reuters

Bloody infighting leaves Gaza a ghost town

Empty streets, unanswered calls for blood donations, dozens of casualties – harrowing day of internal clashes between Hamas, Fatah comes to an end. PM Haniyeh announces ceasefire reached - again

The streets of Gaza were empty Tuesday night save for the ever present groups of gunmen and emergency medical teams as one of the bloodiest days of Palestinian infighting came to an end. Hospitals issued an urgent call for residents to donate blood though the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that turnout was nonexistent. People are afraid to go outside, the ministry explained, they worry they might be caught in the crossfire as Fatah and Hamas wage incessant gunbattles into the night.


The death toll on Tuesday rose to 16 and dozens were wounded, including a 10-year-old girl was caught in the crossfire and critically wounded by a gunshot to the head.


Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh convened representatives from the two factions in the afternoon to discuss the escalation in internal violence and attempted to bring about a new ceasefire after the one obtained several months ago in Mecca collapsed.


Haniyeh's attempt failed in part due to Fatah's refusal to move ahead with talks until Hamas lifted its siege on the house of Fatah spokesman and leader Maher Miqdad.


But later in the night Haniyeh announced that a ceasefire agreement had been reached at a meeting between group representatives. Haniyeh said the agreement would take effect at 2 a.m. Wednesday and gunmen would leave the streets and release their hostages. Simultaneously, the two sides will begin a dialogue for "national calm."


It should be noted that this is the third such agreement reached in the past two days. The previous two agreements - forged when tensions were lower and meant to prevent bloodshed such as was seen Tuesday - were clearly unsustainable.


Children crowd near gunman in Gaza (Photo: AFP)


Gunbattles on Tuesday were centered mostly near the city's universities, with Hamas warning that any attempt to break into the movement's Islamic University would be crossing a red line. Hamas also threatened the home of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, located near the headquarters for Palestinian security forces.


Near midnight, gunbattles were reported outside the home of the Fatah-affiliated Palestinian preventative

security force leader Samir Al Mashawari. Palestinian witnesses reported that Hamas gunmen shot over 20 munitions shells at the home and demanded that he give himself up.


Amidst the fighting Hamas members were quick to announce the number of Israelis injured in Tuesday's Qassam barrage on Sderot using the local mosques' powerful public address systems in Gaza.


פרסום ראשון: 05.16.07, 00:11
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