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13 Jun, 2007 21:24

Hamas tightens grip on Gaza

Hundreds of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' forces are abandoning their posts, after five days of relentless attacks by Hamas militants. The fight against Hamas in Gaza is lost – that is how some in the Fatah movement have described the si

“This is madness, the madness that is taking place in Gaza now. I don't place responsibility on any one party. Each and everyone that carries a weapon and opens fire or launches an attack is responsible. In principle all parties must stop. There has been an open Egyptian call for three days for the parties to meet but I am sorry none has responded yet. We have called for another meeting later today so we can put an end to the fighting. Without a ceasefire and an end to the fighting I think the situation will collapse in Gaza,” stated Mahmoud Abbas. 

President Abbas has not yet requested any reinforcement troops be allowed to cross Israel into Gaza from his Fatah bases in the West Bank. 

With another 33 deaths of mostly fighters from Abbas' Fatah faction during the day, each side has accused the other of more atrocities. 

Meanwhile, more than 80 people have been killed in the latest upsurge in violence between the rival Fatah and Hamas factions. A deadly week in Gaza began on June 7, just two weeks after a ceasefire between the two warring factions was signed. 

The situation is dire for local residents caught in the crossfire. A teenager at a peace rally and a schoolboy are among the dead during the latest violence. 

Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas have made their clearest move yet to reach out to one another, agreeing in a telephone call on the need to end the bloodshed. 

But Hamas officials say they would not back down soon. 

UN Secretary General has reportedly raised the possibility of deploying an international force in Gaza to curb the violence. 

Meantime, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has called for the cessation of violence, but warned against foreign interference in the conflict. 

“Our actions shouldn’t be confined to eliminating the current splash of violence in the Middle East. We cannot allow external forces to speculate on internal Palestinian frictions. We should respect the choice of the Palestinian people and co-operate with the national unity government,” said Sergey Lavrov.