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Cablegate: Gaza Update: 1800 Local June 13: Hamas Pressures

VZCZCXRO4156
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #1191/01 1641539
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 131539Z JUN 07
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7997
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JERUSALEM 001191

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE, NSC FOR ABRAMS/SINGH/WATERS, USAID
FOR WARD/DUNN/RAGLAND

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KWBG KPAL IS PTER ASEC PINS
SUBJECT: GAZA UPDATE: 1800 LOCAL JUNE 13: HAMAS PRESSURES
PASF BASES; 2 UNRWA STAFF KILLED

REF: JERUSALEM 1186 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) Summary. Interfactional violence continued in Gaza
June 13, with at least 16 Palestinians killed since 1200
local. Most fighting involved Hamas
military-wing/8Executive Force8 attacks against Palestinian
security forces (PASF) installations and homes/offices of
senior Fatah leaders and PASF commanders. Shooting continues
in Gaza City and central Gaza as of 1700 local. Hamas
reportedly destroyed a Preventive Security (PSO) base in Khan
Yunis and took over a National Security Forces (NSF) position
there. Unknown gunmen shot and killed two local UNRWA staff
in Gaza City mid-day on June 13. UNRWA has temporarily
suspended its operations in the Gaza Strip. Both Hamas and
Fatah forces have set up checkpoints in major cities and
highways, but according to all reports, Hamas dominates most
critical routes. Fatah militants in Nablus and Ramallah
kidnapped at least 13 Hamas members and are reportedly
threatening to kill them in retaliation for deaths of Fatah
members in Gaza. End summary.

Gaza City and North Gaza
------------------------

2. (SBU) Local Gaza contacts report that Gaza City,s
neighborhoods are nearly empty, except for gunmen, as of 1600
on June 13 and that they are hearing regular automatic
gunfire in most of the city,s neighborhoods. They report
that snipers and machine-gun teams occupy nearly all
residential and commercial high-rise buildings and all
structures near the main security square, where the al-Saraya
NSF HQ is located. Reports indicate that the majority of
these gunmen are Hamas and some are Fatah. NSF contacts
report sporadic gunfire and Hamas probes against al-Saraya,s
security positions.

3. (SBU) General Intelligence (Mukhabarat) contacts report
heavy fire on their HQ in al-Sudaniya, Gaza City as of 1600
local on June 13. (Note: UNRWA, whose office is in
al-Sudaniya, corroborates reports of major fighting around
the Mukhabarat compound. End note). There is regular
shooting (including sniper fire from nearby buildings) at and
around the PSO,s HQ in Tal al-Hawa, Gaza City, but PASF
contacts do not report indications of an imminent assault on
the compound.

4. (SBU) Hamas spokesmen accused Fatah militiamen of burning
several houses and stores owned by Hamas members in Gaza City
on June 13. Hamas took over the al-Muqawsi residential
tower, home to several senior Fatah/PASF leaders, mid-day on
June 13, after heavy Hamas-NSF fighting that killed at least
6 Palestinians. UNRWA reports one of its Gaza City employees
was shot and killed in a crossfire mid-day on June 13.
(Note: another UNRWA employee was killed in similar
circumstances in Khan Yunis, see para. 8. End note).

Peace Demonstrations
Fail to Calm Violence
---------------------

5. (U) Demonstrators organized by MG Burhan Hamad (Egyptian
GIS, security representative) and several civil society
groups confronted armed gunmen in Gaza City,s streets, and
in several cases were chased off by gunfire. Gunmen shot and
injured at least four demonstrators on the afternoon of June
13 (several others were reportedly beaten). Gunmen from
Hamas and Fatah exchanged fire when demonstrators approached
a contested area near the al-Muqawsi and al-Karamah towers.

Ongoing NSF-Hamas Fighting
in Central Gaza
--------------------------

6. (SBU) &Executive Force8 fighters fired at 3 NSF bases
and the PSO HQ in Dayr al-Balah starting o/a 1200 on June 13,
but security contacts report that the NSF repelled the
attackers and that fighting died down to sporadic shooting by
1430. One &Executive Force8 and one NSF soldier were
killed and several from both sides injured in the attacks.
PASF contacts also report fighting near NSF positions in
al-Maghazi Refugee Camp, but said the NSF drove off the Hamas
attackers.

At Least 11 Killed in Explosive
Attack on Khan Yunis PSO Base
-------------------------------


JERUSALEM 00001191 002 OF 002


7. (SBU) Unconfirmed media and UN OCHA reports indicate that
an explosive tunnel detonated under the PSO HQ in Khan Yunis
mid-day June 13 and killed at least 11 PASF members. PASF
contacts report heavy fighting near both the PSO and
Mukhabarat headquarters in Khan Yunis, but the Hamas
military-wing publicly claims to have seized these positions.

8. (SBU) UNRWA contacts report that an UNRWA local employee
was shot and killed when trapped in a shootout between Hamas
and PASF gunmen on June 13. UNRWA has suspended operations
except for emergency medical and food distribution in the
Gaza Strip until the situation calms.

West Bank: Hamas Members Shot,
Taken Hostage by Fatah Gunmen
------------------------------

9. (SBU) The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in Ramallah abducted a
Hamas activist, Muhammad Maharaq and released a video to
local media showing Maharaq surrounded by masked gunmen who
threatened to execute him if Hamas continues its attacks in
Gaza. Security contacts report that Fatah gunmen shot and
damaged the office of al-Umariya Charitable Society while
kidnapping Maharaq.

10. (SBU) NSF contacts report that al-Aqsa Brigades gunmen
abducted 11 Hamas activists in a Nablus Hamas office mid-day
June 13 and shot and injured at least 2 Hamas members as of
1600 local. Ma,an News network reports that al-Aqsa
Brigades threatened &to strike back at West Bank Hamas
within 12 hours if aggression against Fatah and security
officials does not cease in Gaza.8 Al-Aqsa Brigades gunmen
raided pro-Hamas television producer al-Sana,s offices on
June 13, ending its operations. Local contacts report that
Nablus, streets are largely empty due to fear of factional
violence.
WALLES

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