Israel may provide Fatah military support

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Government considers giving military support to moderate Palestinian faction in struggle against Hamas, according to report in Telegraph newspaper

Ynetnews

Published: 05.19.07, 08:52

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Reports of Hamas’ continued military support from Iran could be the main reason that the government may seriously consider the move, despite the involvement of Fatah members in attacks against Israel.

“We believe that time is working against the moderates,” said a member of the Israeli cabinet yesterday.

“Time is of the essence when it comes to the influence of Hamas in the Gaza Strip – to sit and do nothing, not even while we’re being attacked but afterward, is something we cannot afford,” he added.

According to the report, Iran and Syria are still smuggling weapons and funds to Hamas members in the Gaza Strip, and Israel fears the Islamic organization may get its hands on long range missiles if significant steps are not taken to stop it.

However, some fear that any move by Israel to strengthen Fatah may backfire.

“Practically, what they do strengthens Hamas, because they are attacking Hamas and they are the occupying force,” said Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti. “This makes Hamas more popular on the Palestinian street,” he added.

About 50 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the beginning of the week – mostly Fatah members – in the violent clashes between the moderate organization and Hamas.

Since the clashes began, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, and Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas have announced several ceasefires, all of which held only a few hours before riots resumed.

The past week has seen a barrage of Qassam rockets launched from the northern Gaza Strip towards Sderot and the surrounding area. In response, IDF forces began a row of aerial and ground attacks in Gaza, in which 20 Hamas members were killed.

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