Hamas: Fight the Palestinian Authority

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KALKILYA, West Bank - During weekend clashes between Palestinian Authority's (PA) Fatah security forces and members of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's "military" wing, five people, including one civilian, were killed.

Following the incident, Hamas called on the Arab population to fight PA security forces in the same way they fight the Israeli "occupation."

Gaza-based Hamas official Ismail Radwan instructed Hamas forces in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) to fight PA President Mahmoud Abbas's forces with the same tactics they would use against Israelis.

The two Hamas operatives, Muhammad Samman and Muhammad Yassin, killed over the weekend belonged to one of the group's most dangerous terror cells in the area, according to security officials.

The terror cell's large weapons cache included automatic rifles and explosives that were stored in the basement of a mosque in the city.

Conflicting stories about the shootout have been circulating.

One eyewitness said PA security forces used the owner of the home in which the Hamas operatives were holed up, Abed Nasser Basha, who was killed in the crossfire, as a human shield.

A close relative of Basha said the PA started the firefight by launching a grenade at the house, while PA security forces said Basha's wife hurled the first of some 30 hand grenades at them.

Meanwhile, Yuval Diskin, chief of the Shin Bet (General Security Agency) told Cabinet ministers on Sunday that Hamas has called for a cessation in rocket fire against southern Israel while it "is building up its forces in Gaza and is also attempting to extend the range of its rockets either through producing its own models or by smuggling others in via tunnels [dug under the border with the Egyptian Sinai]."

Diskin said it continues to be in the group's best interests to keep things quiet while it build up its weapons cache.

The Shin Bet chief also said there was little chance for the formation of a PA unity government.

In response to Diskin's briefing, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the cease-fire is tenuous.

"There is almost a total cease-fire, but it is very fragile, and Hamas continues to transfer weapons through the tunnels [at the border with Egypt]," Netanyahu said.

"At the same time, we are constantly being asked to ease the situation for the population in Gaza and to allow material and equipment to be brought in. We have other interests in the Strip relating to security," Netanyahu said.

"We don't want to strengthen Hams, either is defensive capabilities or through the flow of funds, and we are interested in the return of [kidnapped Israeli soldier] Gilad Shalit," he said.

"We are examining the issue of the border crossings and are trying to find a balance between easing the situation of the population and preventing the arming of Hamas," he said.

Source: Haaretz

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