Fighting Among Palestinians Reignites in Gaza

The plan would have rival security forces operate under a joint command. Palestinian Interior Minister Hani Kawasmeh, who drafted the plan, resigned Monday in protest of the continued factional violence.

Abbas said in a speech marking the anniversary of the uprooting of many Palestinians during the 1948 Mideast War, fought following Israel’s founding, that the Palestinians’ first priority is ending the lawlessness, according to the Associated Press.

“We must do that by implementing the security plan, without any reluctance or delay, to put an end to civil strife and the ghost of internal fighting,” he said.

The latest round of fighting between supporters of Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah Party began Sunday and at least 17 people have died since then, reported the AP. Fighting broke out after last week’s deployment of 3,000 police in Gaza from forces loyal to Abbas, over Hamas objections.

In one attack on Tuesday near Karni Crossing, Gaza’s main commercial entry point into Israel, Hamas gunmen killed eight members of Abbas’ Presidential Guard, according to a Fatah spokesman, Reuters reported.

Hamas denied the accusation, saying Israeli forces killed the men, and that Fatah killed one of its commanders on Tuesday.

The Israeli military, however, said it fired on two approaching gunmen, hitting one of them.

And Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Israel had no intention of intervening in the Palestinians’ internal fighting, according to Reuters.

The fighting comes two months after the Islamist Hamas and secular Fatah formed a unity government.

“We hoped that our fears would vanish after the unity government was created. I guess we are wrong. We are getting closer to civil war today,” said Gaza resident Nabil Zaki, 32, reported Reuters.

A truce announced Monday never took hold.