Fatah gangs run rampant in Gaza

Over past 24 hrs: Univ. president beaten, journalists abducted.

hostages 298 ap (photo credit: AP)
hostages 298 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Al-Azhar University in Gaza City has been shut down after gunmen belonging to the ruling Fatah party beat the institution's president and some of his aides. The attack took place on Wednesday when some 20 gunmen stormed the offices of university president Dr. Adnan al-Khaldi and forced him to flee after assaulting him. Eyewitnesses said the attackers also dragged an employee from the university's public relations department and dumped him outside the campus. The attack was not the first of its kind on the university. Earlier this year another Fatah group stormed the campus and threatened to lynch the university president, who managed to escape unharmed. The attack coincided with a report published by the PA Interior Ministry showing that Fatah's armed wing, Aksa Martyrs Brigades, was largely responsible for the continued state of lawlessness and anarchy. Figures released by the ministry showed that Fatah gunmen were involved last August in 20 incidents of lawlessness, while Hamas came in second with only 18 violations. The number of Palestinians killed in domestic violence since the beginning of the year was higher than those killed by the IDF, the figures showed. Denouncing that attack on al-Azhar University as a “crime against education,” the university administration decided to suspend studies until the PA security forces put an end to the anarchy. The university also appealed to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to interfere to halt the recurring attacks on its staff by members of his Fatah party. Sources in Gaza City said the latest attack was apparently in response to the university's decision to expel six Fatah-affiliated students for their involvement in previous cases of violence on campus. On Wednesday, a Fatah gang kidnapped two Western journalists while they were traveling in a car near Khan Yunis. The two, Jerusalem-based American correspondent Dion British photographer Adam Pletts, were on assignment for Knight Ridder newspapers when six gunmen seized them at gunpoint and forced them into a yellow Mercedes, which sped off toward Rafah. The two were released unharmed later in the day. PA security sources said the kidnappers, who belong to a Fatah gang calling itself Black Panther, were demanding jobs and money. PA Civil Police Chief Ala Hosni told reporters that the kidnappers were members of the al-Najjar family, one of the biggest clans in Khan Yunis. He said they wanted jobs in the Palestinian security forces and higher ranks for the clan's members who are already serving in these forces. The two journalists were the latest victims of a wave of abductions that has hit PA-ruled areas in the past few months. On Thursday, a family from Khan Yunis announced that their son had been kidnapped and that his captors were demanding a $140,000 ransom. The man, identified as 33-year-old Fayez Sawwali, was kidnapped eight days ago. He was working for the PA Ministry of Waqf. The family accused the PA security forces of failing to carry out their duties with regards to ending the hostage situation. In another sign of growing lawlessness, a Palestinian man was killed and two others injured in armed clashes between rival Fatah gangs in the town of Kabatya near Jenin. The victim was identified as Ala Sabaneh, a policeman who was wanted by Israel for his role in terror activities. Residents said the gunmen were local members of rival factions of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades.