Gaza's Bloody Hamas-Fatah Quasi Civil War


Gaza's quasi civil war of 2006-2007 killed hundreds of people and opened rifts between Palestinian political movements Fatah and Hamas which are still felt today.

On January 25, 2006 Hamas won a surprising but resounding election victory over the previously dominant Fatah, founded by the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Hamas -- an Arabic acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement -- then formed a government headed by Ismail Haniya.

Israel, the United States and other Western countries which consider Hamas a terrorist group refused to recognise the Haniya government. 

Instead they maintained their links with Palestinian president and Fatah leader Mahmud Abbas.

The failure of Hamas-Fatah talks fanned a political crisis which in October erupted into open violence between the sides in the Gaza Strip.

After more than 100 deaths, a ceasefire took hold in February 2007 and Haniya dissolved his government. 

He was then charged by Abbas with forming a new national unity government but fresh violence broke out in May when Hamas and Fatah supporters fought over a new security plan.

Violence escalated, with at least another 100 dead by mid-June and Hamas demanding fighters loyal to Abbas surrender their weapons.

On June 14 Abbas declared a state of emergency and dissolved the government.

The next day, Hamas announced it had taken control of the entire Gaza Strip, in what Abbas called a "military coup".

Calm returned to Gaza but the Palestinian territories were effectively split into two geographically divided and separately-ruled entities in Gaza and the West Bank.

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