Fatah gunmen rampage in Gaza

Schools raided, shots fired in protest over death of intelligence officer.

palestinian drive by 298 (photo credit: AP)
palestinian drive by 298
(photo credit: AP)
Fatah gunmen went on a rampage in Gaza City on Saturday, raiding several schools and firing into the air in protest against the assassination of Gen. Jad Tayeh, a senior officer belonging to the Palestinian Authority's General Intelligence Force. Tayeh was killed on Friday together with four of his aides and bodyguards when masked gunmen opened fire at their vehicle near the home of PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Shati refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. No group claimed responsibility for the assassination, but Fatah officials said they did not rule out the possibility that Hamas members were responsible. Tayeh, 55, is closely associated with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and is said to have been at loggerheads with Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip. Fatah and Hamas leaders expressed fear the assassination would lead to renewed tensions between the two parties and thwart efforts to form a national unity government. Eyewitnesses said a group of gunmen in a jeep chased Tayeh's car as soon as it left the headquarters of the General Intelligence Force. The gunmen then opened fire at the car from automatic weapons, killing Tayeh and his four companions instantly. The gunmen then stole weapons, documents and cellular phones from the victims and fled the scene. "The whole incident lasted about two minutes only," said one witness. "It was like watching a mafia film." The assassination sent shockwaves throughout the Gaza Strip as many Palestinians expressed fear that the families and friends of the victims would try to avenge the killings. Both Abbas and Haniyeh issued strongly-worded statements condemning the killings and vowing to do their utmost to capture the perpetrators. "We will strike with an iron fist against anyone who dares to tamper with the security and unity of our people," said Abbas. Haniyeh said the assassination was a "clear attempt to foil our efforts to establish a national unity government." The two also announced the establishment of a commission of inquiry to investigate the killings. General Intelligence officers asked Haniyeh to hand over to allow them to inspect surveillance cameras installed around his house to see if the assassination was caught on tape. The families of the victims held a press conference in Gaza City on Saturday where they threatened to take the law into their hands if the PA security forces did not catch the assassins. The families also denied that their sons had disputes with any of the Palestinian actions.