Hamas gunmen in deadly clash with Israeli troops entering Gaza

TELEGRAPH…Hamas gunmen opened fire on Israeli troops who crossed into Gaza on Friday, killing two as tensions escalated following the most violent week since Israel’s invasion of the coast enclave 14 months ago.

The clashes came as Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, signalled for the first time since receiving a dressing down from US President Barack Obama on Tuesday that he would reject American demands to halt Jewish construction in East Jerusalem.

The Israeli army said two soldiers were killed and two were wounded in an exchange of fire near the Palestinian town of Khan Younis, in the south of the Gaza Strip. There were unconfirmed reports that two Hamas fighters were also killed.

After months of relative tranquillity following the end of Israel’s military offensive in January last year, there has been an upsurge in rocket attacks from Gaza over recent days, one of which killed a Thai immigrant working in a greenhouse north of the enclave last week.

In a development that will disturb Israel, Hamas admitted its forces were involved in yesterday’s clash. Responsibility for the rocket attacks of the past week has been claimed by Islamist groups largely opposed to Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2007.

Shortly before Mr Netanyahu convened a secret session of his inner cabinet, a statement was released from the prime minister’s office indicating that Israel would give no ground on the settlement issue, which has caused the greatest chasm in its relations with the United States for many years.

“The prime minister’s position is that there is no change in Israel’s policy on Jerusalem that has been pursued by all governments of Israel for the past 42 years,” the statement read.

Enraged by an Israeli decision to build 1,600 Jewish homes in East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War but seen by Palestinians as their future capital, Mr Obama called on Mr Netanyahu to reverse the move and make a series of confidence building gestures to restart peace talks.

While defying Mr Obama’s key demand, a spokesman for the prime minister said that he was prepared to take “additional steps to advance peace talks”.

But a powerful pro-settlement lobby group within the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, urged Mr Netanyahu not to go even that far.

Egypt declares George Galloway ‘persona non grata’ as he’s kicked out of the country after crossing the border from Gaza

MAILONLINE… George Galloway has been permanently banned from Egypt after he was thrown out of the country this morning.

Cairo is accusing the British MP of incitement after his harsh criticism of the government there over delays in an aid convoy’s entry into Gaza, the foreign ministry said today.

‘George Galloway is considered persona non grata and will not be allowed to enter into Egypt again,’ a Foreign Ministry statement said.

This morning plain clothes police officers bundled the Respect MP on to a plane bound for London, said a spokeswoman for the Viva Palestina humanitarian convoy.

Galloway had crossed the border into Egypt – but wanted to return to Gaza after news broke that members of the convoy had been arrested.

The incident began after Mr Galloway and his colleague, Ron McKay, arrived at the Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt.

‘As soon as they emerged on to Egyptian soil, both men were forcibly pushed into a van, refused exit and told that they were leaving the country,’ a spokeswoman said.

‘They were then driven off in a police convoy.’

A police officer maintained security only escorted him for his own protection.

‘It was to protect him from the Egyptian people’s anger,’ he said.

‘He was told that he is a trouble-maker and his behaviour is undermining Egyptian security.’

Galloway led more than 500 activists as part of an international aid convoy to Gaza. 

They entered late Gaza Wednesday from Egypt after a month travelling. Egypt gave them only 24 hours in the blockaded sea side strip before it said it would re-close the crossing.

On Tuesday clashes erupted between members of the convoy and Egyptian riot police in the Mediterranean port city of El-Arish after the convoy was delayed due to some of the materials it was carrying.

The aid convoy of 550 people from 17 countries blamed the violence on ‘heavy-handed policing’ of the group.

Dozens of protesters and police were injured. Seven convoy members were ordered arrested if they returned to Egypt.

‘Mr Galloway and Turkish MPs struck a deal with Egyptian authorities, part of which was that the seven detainees were released without charge.

‘On the enforced drive to Cairo, news came through of the imminent arrest of the seven,’ the convoy spokeswoman siad.

‘But, when Mr Galloway demanded to return to Rafah, permission was repeatedly denied.’

A sympathy protest along the Gaza-side of the border Wednesday degenerated into stone-throwing scuffles and exchange of fire between Egyptian security and Palestinian gunmen, killing one Egyptian border guard.

The convoy was organized by the Britain-based group Viva Palestina, which planned to deliver hundreds of tons of aid.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: ‘We will continue to offer consular assistance to anyone who needs it.’

24 Palestinians Killed as Rival Islamic Groups Clash in Gaza

Abdel-Latif MoussaVOA NEWS… At least 24 Palestinians have been killed and more than 120 wounded in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip during clashes between rival Islamic militant groups.

Hamas security forces launched a fierce assault on a mosque in Gaza, and the leader of a rival Islamic group inspired by al-Qaida was killed along with many of his armed followers. Hamas officials say more than a dozen gunmen from Jund Ansar Allah, or the Soldiers of the Followers of God, were killed, as well as several Hamas policemen and an 11-year-old girl.

Hamas accused the leader of the group, Abdel-Latif Moussa, of treason after he gave a fiery sermon at Friday prayers.

Moussa declared Gaza an Islamic emirate – challenging Hamas rule with a more radical form of Islam. Hamas says Moussa was killed when he blew up an explosives vest he was wearing during the shootout.Israel has charged that al-Qaida, the group responsible for the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States, has infiltrated Gaza from the outside. But Ihab Ghussein, a spokesman for the Hamas Interior Ministry, denied that.

Ghussein said Moussa’s group was Palestinian and had no external ties. He said the group has carried out bomb attacks on Internet cafés and wedding parties, in what he described as a misguided attempt to impose Islamic Law on Gaza.

Since many Palestinians are secular, especially in the West Bank, Hamas has been reluctant to impose strict Islamic Law on Gaza, saying it prefers to set a pious example for people to follow.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in the Palestinian civil war two years ago, routing the Fatah forces of President Mahmoud Abbas, who now heads a more moderate government in the West Bank. Since then Hamas has violently quelled any resistance by Fatah and other groups in Gaza.

Responding to the latest clashes, Hamas said it put down a coup by “outlaws.”

Mosque gun battle rages in Gaza

BBC NEWS… At least six people have been killed and dozens injured in a fierce gun battle in Gaza, emergency services say.

Eyewitnesses say hundreds of Hamas fighters and policemen surrounded then raided a mosque where followers of a radical Islamist cleric were holed up.

They had fired rocket-propelled grenades at the mosque in Rafah, near the Egyptian border, witnesses say.

It is thought that at least 100 supporters of the al-Qaeda-linked group Warriors of God are inside.

Hamas said a grenade fired from the mosque killed one of its fighters. The other fatalities were reported to be gunmen, and a child was also killed.

Fighting pledge

Earlier, during Friday prayers, hundreds of worshippers at Ibn-Taymiyah mosque declared Gaza an “Islamic emirate”.

The mosque’s imam – Abdel-Latif Moussa – and armed supporters swore to fight to the death rather than hand over authority of the mosque to Hamas.

The Salafi Warriors of God, or Jund Ansar Allah, gained some prominence two months ago when it staged a failed attack on a border crossing between Gaza and Israel.

The group is very critical of Hamas, which governs Gaza, accusing the Islamist group of not being Islamist enough.

Hamas has cracked down on al-Qaeda-inspired groups in the past.

It is concerned they may attract more extremist members, and has forbidden anyone except what it describes as Hamas security personnel to carry weapons in Gaza.

Hamas couldn’t fire smuggled Stingers against Israelis due to embedded ID system

If this story doesn’t put a smile on your face. Read it again.pissed-off

from the World Tribune

GAZA CITY — The Hamas regime acquired U.S.-origin air defense systems but was unable to use them in combat.

Hamas sources said the Islamic military has acquired the Stinger man-portable air defense system. The sources said the Stingers were acquired from smugglers in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in 2008 and deployed in the 22-day war against Israel in January 2009.

“We were disappointed by them, and they were found to have been useless,” a Hamas source said.

The source said Hamas smuggled four Stinger systems in 2008. The source said the Hamas military deployed the Stingers against Israel Air Force AH-64 Apache attack helicopters during strike missions in the northern Gaza Strip.

“Our gunners couldn’t fire the weapon,” the source recalled. “A notice came up on the display saying ‘friendly aircraft.'”

Industry sources said Raytheon, producer of Stinger, installed identification friend/foe capabilities more than a decade ago. The sources said this would prevent Stinger from being fired against any aircraft used by the U.S. military.

Another Hamas source said gunners deployed Stinger along with heavy machine guns in attacks on Israeli helicopters during the war in the Gaza Strip. The source said one Stinger surface-to-air missile was launched, but the projectile veered off course and struck a Hamas gunner squad.

“The Stinger was drawn by the heat of our guns rather than the engines of the Israeli helicopters,” the source said. “At that point, we stopped using this weapon.”

The sources said Hamas has abandoned plans to acquire additional Stingers. Instead, the Islamic army has been ordering the Russian-origin SA-16, or Igla-1, surface-to-air missile system, with a range of five kilometers.

Hamas wins teachers union elections for UN schools in Gaza


The “education” of Gazan children is a priority with Hamas. Proper training with an emphasis on hate.

The Jerusalem Post March 29-2009

Hamas supporters scored a victory in elections for the school teachers’ union of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that were held in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday.

However, the rival PLO list won a majority of votes for two other UNRWA workers groups: the employees’ and the services’ unions. This means that the PLO list has enough votes to form the next Executive Council of the General Workers’ Union. The results showed that Hamas won all 11 seats of the teachers’ union.

The Hamas victory means that Hamas supporters will continue to control UNRWA-run schools and other academic institutions throughout the Gaza Strip. Hamas has controlled the UNRWA teachers’ union for the past 16 years.

Some 10,100 UNRWA workers participated in the election, with the turnout being estimated at more than 97 percent. The voting was conducted at UNRWA’s main headquarters in the Gaza Strip.

The PLO list that ran in the election consisted of Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the People’s (Communist) Party. The PLO list won five out of seven seats of the employees’ union and five out of nine in the services’ union.

The services’ union will have three PLO representatives on the Executive Council, while the employees’ union will have only two.

A Hamas official in the Gaza Strip expressed satisfaction with the results, saying they were an indication of the “enormous support” that Hamas continues to enjoy.