Haniyeh Asks Groups to Prevent Civil War

By Hisham Abu Taha
GAZA CITY – Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh yesterday called on rival groups to work to prevent internal violence from exploding into an all-out civil war. “We stress the necessity of sparing the Palestinian people any internal confrontations and to avoid using weapons as a medium for dialogue and to focus on dialogue only to solve our differences,” he said before a Cabinet meeting. “The differences exist, they are there, but this does not mean that they should be solved by gunfire.”

Haniyeh’s Hamas group, which controls the Cabinet and Parliament, and Fatah, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, have been engaged in bloody street battles that have killed 35 Palestinians over the past month.

Haniyeh said the fighting “will please enemies of the Palestinians, who want to see civil war.” Haniyeh spoke a day after Hamas-linked fighters gave their first word on the condition of an Israeli soldier they captured more than six months ago.

“Gilad Shalit is in good health and is being treated according to Islamic standards of dealing with prisoners of war,” said Abu Mujahid of the Palestinian Resistance Committees, a militant group linked to Hamas.

Meanwhile, Fatah’s strongman in Gaza branded the ruling Hamas “a bunch of murderers and thieves” yesterday, in the latest verbal salvo between the rival Palestinian factions.

“They lost the Palestinian street, which sees what they have become. A bunch of murderers and thieves who execute Palestinians only because they are Fatah members,” Mohammed Dahlan said in an interview with Israel’s Haaretz daily.

The comments marked the latest assault in an escalating war of words between Fatah and Hamas.

(Arab News + Agencies)

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