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Palestinian Civil War


Hamas and Fatah leaders gathered in Yemen on 23 March 2008 and signed the Sanaa Declaration. The agreement between the 2 factions only stipulated that they promised to hold more talks in an effort to rebuild the relationship between them. Hamas officials praised the declaration in which they said that it was a great leap toward the reunification of the Palestinians. Fatah officials stated that the agreement was only a minor step toward peace in the region.

In July 2008, tensions escalated between Fatah and Hamas when a bomb exploded in Gaza on the 26 July 2008. The explosion killed 5 Hamas militants, one of them a senior Hamas military commander, and a 6-year-old girl. Following the explosion, Hamas security forces arrested dozens of Fatah supporters, including some senior Fatah officials, in a belief that the rival faction was responsible for the blast. Fatah officials stated that they were not responsible and that an internal dispute among Hamas members was to blame.

On 30 October 2008, Hamas officials stated that they intended to release around 20 political prisoners as a gesture of goodwill due to the upcoming unity talks that they agreed to have when they signed the Sanaa Declaration. Egypt would host the 2 rival factions on 9 November 2008 in an effort to rid tensions between Fatah and Hamas.

On 26 February 2009, rival Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas, signed a deal in Cairo aimed at healing their divisions and creating a unity government. The deal created 5 committees that would handle different issues, including one to work on forming a unity government, and another to focus on rebuilding and reforming the Palestinian security services.

Tensions between the 2 rival Palestinian factions escalated once more due to a raid that took place in the West Bank on 31 May 2009 in the town of Qalqilya. Fatah security forces, with support from Israel, raided a hideout of the Islamic militant group Hamas. Top fugitives in the house hurled grenades and fired assault rifles to try and drive the police back. Six people were killed: 2 armed Hamas militants and a civilian supporter, and 3 policemen loyal to western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. It was the deadliest infighting in the West Bank since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip 2 years ago and drove out the Fatah forces of Mr. Abbas.

In September 2009, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said dialogue between his Fatah movement and Hamas might be possible only after presidential and parliamentary elections in 2010. Talks between the two factions to determine Palestinian unity had stalled several times throughout the 2009 year.

On 15 October 2009, the militant group Hamas refused to sign the peace deal that was drafted, which would have paved the way for unity of the 2 factions. Hamas officials stated that the agreement needed to be revised because there was no provision that mentioned a clear anti-Israeli occupation resistance. Hamas continued to use force in an effort to create a Palestinian state while Fatah used diplomacy.

On 23 October 2009, Mahmoud Abbas stated that Palestinian elections would be held in January 2010. Hamas criticized the announcement and stated that since no peace deal had been officially recognized between the 2 factions, the elections would be banned in Gaza. Hamas also stated that the elections would neither be transparent nor democratic in any way.

In June 2010, Mahmoud Abbas declared that the Palestinian factions had to unite to oppose the Israeli occupation after the deadly flotilla incident that occurred on 31 May 2010. The attack on the flotilla was seen as a symbol for all Palestinians that unity was crucial in order to move ahead in the creation of a Palestinian state.

As of July 2010, there was no creation of a Palestinian state. The rival groups Fatah and Hamas had still yet to be unified. The raid on the Freedom Flotilla, however, had presented an opportunity for progress, as both Fatah and Hamas were unified in their outrage at the Israeli actions. Tensions between the 2 groups appeared to have been toned down in an effort to focus their attention on Israel and the adoption of a 2-state plan.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:29:10 ZULU