Iranian Weapons Experts Arrested in Gaza, Ceasefire in Tatters

by Hana Levi Julian and Hillel Fendel, INN

Five Iranian weapons experts were caught in a raid by Fatah loyalists late Thursday night, according to PA sources. One Iranian committed suicide during the operation.

An Iranian general was reportedly one of those captured in the raid at the Islamic University in Gaza City, long considered a Hamas stronghold. No names or photos of the Iranian operatives have been released.

Fierce battles between Hamas and Fatah continued on Friday, and at least another seven Gaza men were reported killed. Hamas operatives first killed two Fatah intelligence officers, and shortly afterwards, a number of Force 17 men stationed in a Fatah outpost were reported seriously wounded.

Hamas fired mortar shells on Fatah positions throughout Gaza early Friday afternoon. Some 25 PA residents were wounded overnight as Fatah and Hamas warred for control of the government, tearing the ceasefire to tatters.

Palestinian Authority officials called for Gazan residents to donate blood to help treat the many wounded.

On Thursday, the Fatah forces also stormed and took control of Hamas-controlled PA government offices as well as setting fire to a building at the university. Between six and nine Palestinian Authority residents, including terrorists, were killed, and some 1,400 guns and missiles were found in the university and confiscated.

Fatah officials said Ahmad Ja’abri, a Hamas commander believed to have planned the raid in which IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit was kidnapped last June, was seriously wounded during the raid.

Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said Friday morning that Iran has been “very intensely involved [in] upgrading the professional capacity of the terrorist groups” in Gaza.

No Weapons in Convoy
Meanwhile, an Israeli security source sided with the Fatah version of yesterday’s clash that left six Gazan Arabs dead. The Israeli source told Arutz-7’s Haggai Huberman that the Egyptian truck convoy that entered Gaza in fact contained no weapons – just as Fatah had claimed.

The convoy contained logistical equipment such as tents, chemical lavatories and cars, the source said. Hamas had claimed that the convoy contained weapons destined for Fatah, and therefore mounted a large-scale attack upon the trucks and guards. Five Fatah terrorists and one child were killed, and a dozen Fatah men were kidnapped.

Three of the dead were identified as members of the elite Force 17 presidential guard of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. More than 60 people were injured in the battles.

The ill-fated convoy made its way into Gaza through the Israeli-controlled checkpoint at Kerem Shalom, and not through Rafah, to enable the IDF to check it for weapons.
The PA interior ministry, controlled by Hamas, had issued this statement: “The mysterious entrance of the trucks under heavy protection by the Presidential Guard [of Fatah] raises suspicions of their contents and purpose… We have learned that weapons have been sent by one of the Arab nations… We view this very gravely, and demand that the Arab nations break the siege on the Palestinian nation [sic] instead of transferring weapons [to Fatah] that will merely heat up the Palestinian front and cause the people more suffering.”

The convoy attack marked the end of a shaky ceasefire agreed upon two days before. Repeated attempts to negotiate a firm ceasefire and create a unity government in the Palestinian Authority have failed. Egyptian intelligence officials, Saudi Arabian leaders and Jordanian King Abdullah II have all attempted to mediate in negotiations, to no avail.

February 2, 2007 | Comments Off on Iranian Weapons Experts Arrested in Gaza, Ceasefire in Tatters

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