On January 25, 2006, Hamas became the leading party in the Palestinian Authority, after a sweeping victory in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections. This marked the first time a party other than Fatah had been elected into the 13-year-old Palestinian Authority and was mandated to form a predominantly Hamas-member government. The US and Israel vehemently refused to deal with a party that did not recognize Israel’s right to exist. Israel, the United States and the European Union have all included Hamas on its list of terrorist organizations. Israeli Prime Minister Olmert quickly began withholding Palestinian tax revenues and the Middle East Quartet (The UN, EU, US and Russia) froze all funds to Palestine.
Under such circumstances it was inevitable that tension between Hamas and Fateh would eventually erupt. Low level conflict ensued throughout 2006 between the two parties until February 2007 when Khaled Mashal, Hamas politburo leader and President Abbas of Fatah agreed to form a unity government in Mecca under the sponsorship of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
Despite this apparent cessation of armed conflict, the agreement did not have the desired effect and the clashes flared up once again.
From March to May, nearly 150 Palestinians were killed in factional fighting between Hamas and Fatah. At the end of May, independent Interior Minister Taleb al-Qawasmi, resigned due to lack of authority in controlling the two factions. This culminated in what has been dubbed the ‘Battle for Gaza’ in which Hamas asserted its complete control over the Strip.
(The following information comes several different sources)
The Battle for Gaza
Sunday June 10th 2007: Fighting resumes between Fatah and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas captures a number of Fatah members in Gaza and throws Mohammed Sweirki, an officer in the Palestinian Presidential Guard, off the tallest building in Gaza.
Fatah kills the imam of the largest mosque in Gaza, Mohammed al-Rifati.
Fatah throws a Hamas militant off the top of a building.
Monday June 11th 2007: Leaders of both groups targeted.
Hamas executes Fatah Secretary General Jamal Abu al-Jadiyn in Beit Lahiya.
Hamas kills Yasir Baker of Fatah intelligence.
Fatah and Hamas forces clash at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
Hamas affiliated Executive Force and the Fatah affiliated al-Masri clan clash with each other at the Beit Hanoun Hospital. Eid Mahmoud al-Masri, his son Ibrahim and nephew Faraj are killed.
Hamas opens fire at the residence of Fatah PA President, Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza.
Fatah also shells the home of Hamas PA Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza.
Hamas and Fatah fighting ensues overnight in Gaza City at the al-Shati refugee camp and the al-Maqqousi housing project.
Tuesday June 12th 2007: Hamas takes the advantage in Gaza while Fatah reaffirms its presence in the West Bank.
Fatah takes control of a Hamas controlled TV station in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Hamas militant wing, al-Qassam, takes five strategic points in Khan Yunis. 90 Fatah members surrender.
Hamas militant wing, al-Qassam, also takes key headquarters in Gaza City deeming the area a ‘closed military zone’.
Hamas seizes control of a Fatah base in the northern town of Jabaliya.
Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas calls for forces to value ‘national interests over personal ones’ while Hamas leader Haniyeh urges an ‘end to fighting’.
Hamas besieges Fatah spokesman, Maher Miqdad in Gaza City.
Fatah suspends Hamas members from Parliament in the West Bank.
Fatah kills the nephew of Abdel Aziz Rantessi, a senior Hamas leader assassinated by Israel in April 2003.
Hamas takes charge of refugee camps Maghazi, Brej and Nuseirat in Central Gaza.
Wednesday June 13th 2007: Hamas consolidates their position.
Hamas eventually overpowers resistance at Maher Miqdad’s house in Gaza City.
Hamas defeats the Fatah-controlled National Security Forces in northern Gaza.
Fatah militants kill three Hamas members outside a mosque in the West Bank city of Nablus.
Hamas destroys a Fatah outpost monitoring Gaza’s main north-south road.
Hamas demolishes the Fatah affiliated Preventive Security force in Khan Yunis.
Hamas claims to have taken two crucial positions near the border with Israel in Central Gaza.
Thursday June 14th 2007: Hamas asserts their complete control over the Gaza Strip.
Hamas executes Fatah member Samih al-Madhoun in Nuseirat.
Fatah kills Hamas member Anis al-Sullus in the West Bank city of Nablus.
Hamas completes their occupation of the main symbol of Fatah authority in the Gaza Strip – the Palestinian Preventive Security Service headquarters identified with Fatah enforcer Mohammed Dahlan.
Hamas celebrates their ‘victory’ by waving the green flag of the movement from the top of buildings parading through the streets and setting fire to the [Preventive Security] compound claiming it was supplied by the US and Israel.
Hamas changes the name of the area from ‘Tel al-Hawa’ to ‘Tel al-Islam’.
Fatah reportedly blows up their positions in Gaza City and retreats to avoid the humiliation of having to surrender to Hamas.
Fatah members ransack the offices of Hamas politicians with four surrendering.
Hamas in the late afternoon, captures Rafah in the south of the Strip and a border with Egypt monitored by Israeli, Palestinian and EU security forces.
Fatah forces surrender in Gaza City.
Friday June 15th 2007: Hamas claims to have complete control over Gaza.
Meanwhile in the West Bank, President Abbas announces the dissolution of the current unity government and declares a state of emergency amidst cries of foul play by Hamas, who regard themselves as the legitimate governing body.
Sunday June 17th 2007: A day after Fatah’s military wing, the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, loot the Hamas governed parliament in Ramallah, new Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, upon appointment by President Abbas, installs his emergency government to act for the next thirty days.
Over one hundred Palestinians were killed in five days of fighting.
An estimated 600 Gazans have attempted to escape into Israel by the Erez crossing in northern Gaza.
There are approximately 2,500 Palestinians in Rafah and Al Arish trying to escape from the south of Gaza.
(MIFTAH – visit www.Miftah.org for more fact sheets and related info)