Hamas calls emergency meeting following blast
PM Ismail Haniyeh convenes leaders after beachfront explosion kills five Hamas operatives, young girl. 'Those responsible will be brought to justice,' he warns. Hamas security forces storm offices of rival faction Fatah's news agency, confiscate computers, files
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh instructed Gaza authorities to "track down the parties involved in the horrible crime committed yesterday," and warned that "those responsible for the blast will be brought to justice, to stand as an example for all those thinking of spilling Palestinian blood." He called for immediate action to keep the situation from deteriorating into anarchy.
Hamas security forces also stormed the offices of the Fatah-run WAFA news agency in Gaza on Saturday, and Fatah sources said computers and files were confiscated.
The Hamas government said that the blast was intended to disrupt the peace and security Gaza's residents have been enjoying for the past several months. Hamas also fingered the 'traitorous faction' as being behind the plot - using a common Hamas epithet for the rival Fatah.
Sources in the Gaza postulated that Hamas' military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, would set the tone for the organization's level of retaliation, and added that the Brigades have declared a high state of alert throughout their ranks.
Hamas also issued a government decree overnight ordering Fatah institutions be shut down, including state offices in the Strip where reigning province governors have retained a degree of affinity towards the Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Hamas operatives were incensed by Fatah's blatant displays of joy after the blast, particularly in the West Bank.
The Palestinian Authority's official television network broadcast footage of the explosion's aftermath set to victory medleys and odes to Fatah, as well as songs condemning dictators and criminals. Hamas understands the broadcast as an official admission of guilt by its rival faction.
Sources in Gaza believe that the recent developments would irrevocably impact on the already volatile relationship between Hamas and the few in Gaza who remain loyal to Fatah.
In recent months Hamas had let up on its stringent persecution of Fatah's operatives after PA President Mahmoud Abbas issued a call to renew negotiations between the two Palestinian factions, but the bombing and subsequent tidal of arrests may prove the final nail in the reconciliation efforts.
Sources said Hamas would now revoke permits it had previously granted to Fatah conventions and rallies, and that the negotiations had little chance moving forward.