Hamas in new security challenge to Abbas

Hamas in new security challenge to Abbas

GAZA – A new Hamas-dominated police force began patrols yesterday in defiance of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, mounting a powerful challenge to the moderate leader that could stoke more internal bloodshed.

Interior Minister Saeed Seyam declared the security service operational after the killings of two Hamas militants by gunmen in Gaza in the past two days. In fresh violence in the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces shot dead two Islamic Jihad militants.About 30 members of the new force, armed and wearing military fatigues, patrolled the market of Nusseirat refugee camp, a Hamas stronghold in the Gaza Strip.Some wore headbands emblazoned with the name “Qassam”, Hamas’s armed wing.Witnesses said members of the force also deployed along main roads, including the north-south Gaza highway, and some were on mobile patrol.Abbas, whose Fatah party was defeated by Hamas in a January election, has rejected the new 3 000-member force which the Islamic militant group has said would be comprised of its own fighters and gunmen from allied factions.At a news conference, Seyam said the contingent would tackle a “state of chaos and anarchy and increasing assaults on our people”.Just hours after Seyam’s announcement, members of the force ejected students from Education Ministry offices in the Gaza town of Khan Younis, where they were protesting against exam fees, witnesses said.- Nampa-ReutersIn fresh violence in the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces shot dead two Islamic Jihad militants.About 30 members of the new force, armed and wearing military fatigues, patrolled the market of Nusseirat refugee camp, a Hamas stronghold in the Gaza Strip.Some wore headbands emblazoned with the name “Qassam”, Hamas’s armed wing.Witnesses said members of the force also deployed along main roads, including the north-south Gaza highway, and some were on mobile patrol.Abbas, whose Fatah party was defeated by Hamas in a January election, has rejected the new 3 000-member force which the Islamic militant group has said would be comprised of its own fighters and gunmen from allied factions.At a news conference, Seyam said the contingent would tackle a “state of chaos and anarchy and increasing assaults on our people”.Just hours after Seyam’s announcement, members of the force ejected students from Education Ministry offices in the Gaza town of Khan Younis, where they were protesting against exam fees, witnesses said.- Nampa-Reuters

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