Hamas gunmen CHECK CAPTION 248.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Hamas representatives claimed on Sunday that their militiamen were fighting against IDF troops in the Gaza Strip with weapons confiscated from the Palestinian Authority in the summer of 2007.
They said Hamas had managed to lay its hands on all the weapons that Israel, the US and other countries had given forces loyal to PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas had also seized dozens of armored vehicles used by Abbas's security forces, they added.
After its men took full control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, Hamas announced that it had seized tens of thousands of rifles and pistols, including heavy machine guns, night-vision goggles and bulletproof vests, as well as vast amounts of ammunition.
Sources close to Hamas also claimed that dozens of members of the rival Aksa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, had volunteered to fight alongside Hamas units.
The sources added that gunmen belonging to other armed factions were also involved in the fighting. They included members of Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
The Aksa Martyrs Brigades announced that Fatah gunmen were involved in the fighting in several areas, including Beit Hanun, Beit Lahiya and the outskirts of Gaza City, adding that its men had also succeeded in detonating an explosive charge near an IDF vehicle in the center of the Gaza Strip. It said five Fatah men had been wounded, two seriously. It did not say whether its men were fighting together with Hamas.
Meanwhile, jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti sent his greetings on Sunday to Hamas's militiamen and to all the gunmen involved in the fighting against the IDF.
"Fatah and its men are an integral part of this battle and in confronting the aggression," he said in a message from Israeli prison, where he is serving five life terms for his involvement in armed attacks against Israelis during the second intifada.
Barghouti urged all Palestinian factions to put aside their differences and unite their ranks to fight against the IDF in the Gaza Strip.
"The Israeli aggression is directed against all the Palestinians and their cause," the Fatah leader said. "This is the time to join forces in combating the Israeli occupation."
Reports about Fatah gunmen involved in the fighting came despite allegations that Hamas had placed dozens of Fatah activists under house arrest and killed others out of fear that they would exploit the IDF operation to undermine the Hamas government.