Hamas & Abbas Agree on Palestinian Parliament
After a meeting between Hamas leaders and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, it was announced that the Hamas-led parliament will convene February 16. Hamas has chosen their Prime Minister and department ministers, but has not announced the names. Hamas leader Mamoud al-Zahar said that recognition of Israel was not a condition of forming the government, which Abbas had been under considerable pressure to demand. al-Zahar reiterated that Hamas has no intentions of recognizing Israel.
Also determined during the meeting was that Hamas would partially control the Palestinian security forces, with the police, the civil guard, and the Preventive Security Forces under the control of the Interior Minister, to be appointed by Hamas. The National Guard and the intelligence services will stay under the control of the Palestinian President, currently Fatah’s Abbas. Fatah members within the various security elements have said that they will not accept a security apparatus run by Hamas. The extent to which they honor President Abbas’ concession remains to be seen. This could be the precursor to internal red-on-red violence in the coming weeks.
On Friday, terrorists fired Qassam rockets from northern Gaza into Ashkelon and Karmia in Israel. The Karmia attack hit the home of an Israeli family, injuring all three including a 17-month old baby seriously. Israel fired a dozen rockets into the area of the firings.
In further response, an IDF attack helicopter fired missiles on a building in Gaza City where Israel had intelligence that a meeting was taking place among members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades. Three were killed when the helicopters fired on a car as they attempted to flee. Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, as well as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, is responsible for many of the rocket attacks on Israeli civilians in recent months.
Amidst the Fatah/Hamas meeting on the parliament and the Israeli airstrikes, Palestinians stormed a German cultural center and the European Commision building in protest of the Danish cartoons depicting hte Prophet Muhammad. Due to forces both internal and external, there will be little peaceful rest in the Palestinian Territories for the foreseeable future.