Gaza mourning 224.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Hamas issued an ultimatum over the weekend to a powerful Fatah-affiliated clan in Gaza City to hand over its weapons or face a massive attack.
The ultimatum came after two Palestinians were killed in fierce clashes that erupted between members of the Hils clan and Hamas's security forces in the Shajaiyyeh neighborhood of Gaza City.
One of the victims was Muhammad al-Sussi, 13, who was killed while he was on his way to school. His younger brother was moderately wounded. The second victim was identified as Muhammad Hils, 22. Eyewitnesses said he was killed when he tried to fire a rocket at Hamas members.
At least seven Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the clashes between the two parties last Thursday.
Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip told The Jerusalem Post that the members of the Hils clan had refused to surrender their weapons as part of a campaign aimed at ending anarchy and lawlessness. They also accused the Hils clan of standing behind a series of attacks on Hamas figures and institutions in the Gaza Strip in recent weeks.
"We are determined to disarm this clan and force them to hand over all those who were involved in the anarchy," said Ihab al-Ghissin, spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Interior. "We have declared a state of emergency and our security forces have been instructed to use force to end this case."
Ghissin also accused the Hils clan of firing a mortar rocket at a school earlier in the day, wounding three girls. He added that dozens of gunmen belonging to the clan had set up makeshift roadblocks in their neighborhood and planted roadside bombs to prevent the Hamas security forces from entering the area.
"The Hils clan, like many other families in the Gaza Strip, had become accustomed to the state of anarchy and lawlessness that prevailed before Hamas took over," he explained. "But they don't realize that now that Hamas is in control, no one is above the law."
Several other clans have since agreed to surrender their weapons to Hamas. One of them was the notorious Dughmush clan, whose members were responsible for a spate of kidnappings of foreign nationals in the Gaza Strip over the past two years. Shortly after Hamas came to power, the Dughmush clan agreed to release kidnapped BBC correspondent Alan Johnston.
Representatives of several families living in the Shajaiyyeh neighborhood expressed their support for Hamas's efforts to disarm the Hils clan, saying the time had come to impose law and order on the streets. The families said the presence of gunmen and thugs on the streets had terrorized the public.
In Ramallah, Fatah spokesman Ahmed Abdel Rahman condemned Hamas for targeting the Hils clan and other residents of Gaza City.
He said Hamas's "crimes" were a sign of its growing weakness and political bankruptcy. He also hailed the clan as a "patriotic" family that had long been struggling against Israel.