The US and Israel are no doubt quite happy with the civil strife. It weakens the Palestinians. Given that Hamas was the elected government of Palestine it is ironic that the promoters of democracy immediately offer support for Abbas' coup. Of course from the beginning the US and Israel has done everything possible to destroy the Hamas government. It seems that the Palestinians are unable to unify. They will end up with a puppet govt. that can push through Israeli interests.
Fatah gunmen storm Hamas-controlled buildings
Last Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2007 | 9:32 AM ET
Fatah gunmen moved against politicians and other officials from the rival faction Hamas in the West Bank on Saturday, storming the parliament building in Ramallah.
Some climbed on the roof and erected Fatah and Palestinian flags, while those inside the building grabbed the legislative council's deputy speaker, who is aligned with Hamas.
Militants from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades walk past a picture showing the late Yasser Arafat as they take over the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah on Saturday.
(Muhammed Muheisen/AP) Hassan Kreisheh was taken outside, but escaped unharmed after staff members intervened, witnesses said.
Government employees were told that those with ties to Hamas will not be allowed to return.
The Hamas-controlled city council in the West Bank city of Nablus was also overrun and the Fatah flag raised atop the building.
In Hebron, gunmen stormed Education Ministry offices, fired in the air and demanded that Hamas supporters stop working there.
The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a violent offshoot of Fatah, said it plans to take control of all Hamas institutions, in response to the bloody takeover by Hamas of Gaza earlier this week.
On Friday, President Mahmoud Abbas, who is in the West Bank, named former finance minister Salam Fayyad to replace Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas as prime minister, a day after dissolving the three-month-old Hamas-led national unity government.
The move followed five days of intense fighting between the two factions, which gave Hamas control of the entire Gaza Strip.
Hamas, which won parliamentary elections under Haniyeh in January 2006, took control of the presidential compound in Gaza City.
Aides to Abbas said he planned to swear in a new emergency government on Saturday in a move that Hamas said would amount to a coup.
U.S. offers to support new government
The United States strengthened its offer of support for Abbas on Saturday, reportedly telling him that an international aid embargo against the Palestinians would end as soon as he forms a new government without Hamas.
The news comes from unidentified aides to Abbas quoted by the Associated Press. That report said the offer to help lift the embargo was made by Jacob Walles, the U.S. consul general in Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, a crowd looted the home of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on Saturday, destroying one of the strongest symbols of the Fatah movement in the Gaza Strip, witnesses and Fatah officials said.
The villa in Gaza City had been empty since Arafat left for the West Bank in
2001 shortly after the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising.
Israel confined Arafat to the West Bank until permitting him to fly to France for medical care in late 2004. He died in France several weeks later.
Arafat, Fatah's founder, led the Palestinians for four decades before his death.
With files from the Associated Press Related