Skip to comments.Gaza gunmen rampage on Egypt border
Posted on 01/04/2006 10:11:54 AM PST by Alouette
Palestinian gunmen, members of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, bulldoze barricade on border, disrupt traffic on frontier, storm government offices after police arrest local leader on suspicion of involvement in kidnapping of three Britons last week
Palestinians swarmed across the Gaza Strip's frontier with Egypt after gunmen bulldozed through protective barricades on Wednesday, prompting Egyptian border police to fire warning shots, witnesses said.
Gunmen disrupted traffic on the frontier and stormed government offices on Wednesday in growing unrest ahead of elections later this month.
The gunmen, members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction, went on the rampage after police arrested a local leader on suspicion of involvement in the kidnapping of three Britons last week.
After commandeering a bulldozer to cheers from onlookers, gunmen smashed through concrete blocks lining the border near the Palestinian refugee camp of Yibna, witnesses said.
The gunmen fired into the air in celebration, but in the direction of Egypt. Egyptian troops posted on the other side of the border did not immediately respond, witnesses said.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz spoke Wednesday with his American, Palestinians and Egyptian counterparts and said that Israel harshly disapproves of the Palestinian Authority's lack of control over the Philadelphi route.
Mofaz asked the Egyptians to stop the Palestinians' movement from the Gaza Strip into Egypt and added that if this phenomenon does not stop, Israel would operate to close the Rafah crossing. The minister also instructed the defense establishment to increase its operational strikes on the Gaza Strip.
Gunmen earlier ordered passengers to leave the European Union-monitored Rafah border terminal and blocked access to the facility for more than an hour after taking over several government offices in the border town and kicking out workers.
They said they allowed the terminal to reopen after security forces told them where their leader was being detained.
Chaos has deepened in Gaza, territory seen as a testing ground for Palestinian statehood, since Israeli troops withdrew in September. The end of 38 years of occupation has intensified a power struggle between gunmen and security forces.
Embarrassment for Abbas
The incident was another embarrassing blow to Abbas, who has come under growing pressure from within Fatah to delay the January 25 elections in which the faction is widely expected to lose ground to the Islamic Hamas group.
Sworn to Israel's destruction, Hamas is riding high on a wave of popularity among Palestinians over its corruption-free reputation and extensive charity network.
The latest unrest began after kidnapping suspect Ala al-Hams was detained on Tuesday. Gunmen detonated a bomb under a barrier along the Gaza-Egypt border and took over an office in charge of the Palestinian security services in protest at the arrest.
The gunmen also threatened to kidnap any Palestinian Authority official who passed through the Rafah crossing.
There has been a rash of abductions in Gaza since the Israeli pullout. Last week, gunmen snatched British aid worker Kate Burton and her parents as they visited Rafah. They were freed unharmed after three days in captivity.
The gunmen said they would prevent voting in Rafah in the elections unless Palestinian security forces freed their leader.
"We have not yet received answers on our demands to immediately release Ala al-Hams," said a spokesman for the gunmen who called himself Abu Yazan.
"(The elections office) will remain closed and we will not allow parliamentary elections to be held in Rafah unless Ala is released," he added.
Gunmen also renewed rocket fire from Gaza into Israel late on Wednesday causing no damage.
In fresh violence in the West Bank, the Israeli army said its troops killed a Palestinian gunman in an exchange of fire near Hebron.
Hanan Greenberg contributed to the report
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You mean they're not happy now they have Gaza all to themselves? I'm shocked!
I guess this is how the liberals want every government to be, since the Palestinians have been praised and been given Nobel 'Peace' prizes. This anarchy might make the rational ones (if there are any) long for the good old days of Israeli occupation.
You know what the liberals will say (or are saying?). This is all because of Israel, what they did to them in the past. And besides. It's all Bush's fault.
All of them.
These animals will not be happy until Israel no longer exists. You CAN'T appease them! Mahmoud Ahmadinejad summed it all up when he said "Israel must be wiped off the map."
We need to give Israel, Jordan, and Egypt a few old "Puff" birds and let them play on the borders a night or two.
Drop some leaflets into Gaza that say, "You are making Allah very angry."
Pali's better watch it.
Egypt doesn't have to be concerned about condemnation from other Arab states.
These animals will not be happy until Israel no longer exists. ...BS. They will never be appeased, happy or civilised.
Jihadicus Babboonus, aka the Baboonic Plague..
I agree with you. They are vermin and should be exterminated.
This conforms to an ancient observation: One good way to get what you want is to give the other guy what he thinks he wants ... exactly what he thinks he wants.
The Israelis are not naive, and I expect they'll use this to their advantage. A bit of (ahem) Jew Jitsu...
Egypt will probably just give back the Gaza or expel the Palis like Jordan did. They seem to be trouble wherever they go. They got their land and they are not satisfied.
Sounds like the Cleveland clapper caper.
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