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Breaking news: Hamas takes Gaza, Abbas dismisses government

MAHMUD HAMS/AFP After four days of violence in the Palestinian territories, Hamas fighters took over the headquarters of rival faction Fatah’s Preventive Security Forces and the offices of military intelligence in the Gaza strip today. Hamas dragged Fatah members out of the buildings and executed them on the street. At least 100 people, both Hamas ...

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MAHMUD HAMS/AFP

After four days of violence in the Palestinian territories, Hamas fighters took over the headquarters of rival faction Fatah’s Preventive Security Forces and the offices of military intelligence in the Gaza strip today. Hamas dragged Fatah members out of the buildings and executed them on the street. At least 100 people, both Hamas and Fatah, have been killed in the fighting this week. There are reports that Hamas is closing in on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Gaza compound. Hamas announced that Gaza is now under its Islamic rule, the first step towards becoming an Islamic state. 

In response, President Abbas, a member of Fatah, dissolved the three-month-old Hamas-led unity government and announced a state of emergency. He is establishing a temporary emergency government, which must be approved by the Palestinian Legislative Council until elections can be held. Hamas has rejected all of Abbas’s claims. A Hamas spokesman said that Prime Minister Ismail Haniya would not step down.

To read what it’s like being on the ground in Gaza, check out Conflictblotter, the blog of Charles Levinson, the Middle East correspondent for the Telegraph. He describes much confusion at the end of the day on the streets today:

Guns are silent. People in the streets. Loudspeakers proclaiming “Allahu Akbar” in the distance. Caravan of cars, looks like a victory procession in the distance. Celebratory gunfire. We never heard any battle for Abbas’ compound. Just talked to the owner of the apartment we were at and he’s thoroughly confused. Said there was not much fighting there. He sees a few people in the streets, but not sure who they are. No one has mentioned a surrender. So we’re still trying to figure out just what’s going on.

Abbas’s dissolution of the government may be too late, at least for Gaza. Who knows what will happen in the West Bank in the upcoming days? There were skirmishes in Nablus, with Fatah gunmen kidnapping Hamas members. But the state of emergency leaves open the possibility of international intervention, which Abbas has said he would welcome. No matter which way you cut it, though, it looks like out-and-out civil war.

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