Fatah gunman: 'We want a Palestinian Winograd'

Ramallah residents rebuke Fatah "refugees" from Gaza.

Hamas Arafat 298 88 (photo credit: AP)
Hamas Arafat 298 88
(photo credit: AP)
At least 160 Palestinians were killed and 796 wounded in last week's fighting between Fatah and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, according to a report published Sunday by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights Al-Mizan. More than half of the casualties were Fatah activists and members of the Palestinian Authority security forces, the report noted. Hamas lost 28 of its men, while 45 civilians were killed from June 10-17, the report added. The center said the death toll could still rise because many remained unaccounted for and because of the severity of the injuries of dozens of people. Fatah officials here warned Palestinian journalists against reporting on the arrival of dozens of Fatah leaders from the Gaza Strip. Most of the "refugees" have been placed in hotels throughout the city. Local residents expressed outrage over the fact that the top Fatah leaders were staying in hotels while many Palestinians remained stranded on the Palestinian side of the Erez border crossing. "These leaders who ran away from the Gaza Strip should be ashamed of themselves," said a local shopkeeper. "They and their families are living in five-star hotels while the people in the Gaza Strip are dying and starving." Mahmoud Ali, a university student, said he was disturbed by the fact that most of the Fatah leaders had fled the Gaza Strip with Israel's help. "These people care only about their lives and money," he said. "Many people in Ramallah are unhappy with their presence here." Sufyan Abu Zaidah, a top Fatah official who left the Gaza Strip, rejected the allegations, saying the majority of his colleagues fought against Hamas until the last minute. "More than 90% of them remained in their positions in the Gaza Strip until the last minute," he said. "They had good reason to run away because they saw how Hamas was lynching Fatah activists in the streets. They did not want to stay behind and face a brutal death." Fatah gunmen and PA security officers banned Palestinian journalists from entering some of the hotels "for security reasons." Some of the journalists complained that they had received death threats for reporting on the presence of the new "refugees" in the city. Meanwhile, Fatah gunmen continued on Sunday their crackdown on Hamas figures and institutions in the West Bank. Eyewitnesses told The Jerusalem Post that the Fatah gunmen were also operating in villages that are under Israeli security control. In Nablus, gunmen belonging to Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, raided the home of Adnan Asfour, a top political leader of Hamas, and destroyed furniture. Asfour is currently in an Israeli jail. His relatives said the gunmen searched the house and threatened to kill them. Several Hamas supporters in the city were detained by the Fatah gunmen in the past 24 hours. One of them is Nabil al-Wadi, headmaster of a chain of Hamas-affiliated kindergartens in the city. In Tulkarm, dozens of Fatah gunmen went on a rampage inside several Hamas-affiliated institutions and stole equipment and computers. A local Hamas-controlled hospital was also targeted. The gunmen also stormed the homes of several Hamas figures in the nearby villages of Atil, Ilar, Dir al-Ghussoun, Bala'a and Kafin. Fatah representatives here described the events of the past week as a third "nakba" [catastrophe] for the Palestinians after the defeat of the Arab armies in 1948 and 1967. Some called for a commission of inquiry into the reasons behind Fatah's stunning defeat. "We want a Palestinian Winograd," said a member of Fatah's armed wing, referring to Israel's commission of inquiry into the Second Lebanon War that was headed by Judge Eliyahu Winograd. "Someone has to pay the price." Prominent Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish joined the bandwagon of those who are criticizing the way Fatah had handled the crisis with Hamas. Writing in the PA-funded Al-Ayyam newspaper, Darwish said: "How can a hungry guard protect the home of a leader who is spending his vacation in France and Italy? We liked June on the 40th anniversary [of the Six Day War]. We didn't find anyone to defeat us again, so we defeated ourselves." Hafez Barghouti, editor of the daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, said Fatah lost the battle in the Gaza Strip because of its internal divisions and unruly, ill-equipped and ill-trained militias and security forces. He noted that since the Fatah defeat in the January 2006 parliamentary election, the faction had failed to reform itself. "Those who were responsible for Fatah's defeat in the election are still running the show," he said. "The time has come for painful surgery and renewal in Fatah."