Hamas accuses Dahlan's group of weekend blast
The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip said yesterday that the "revolutionary stream" - as former Gaza Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan's supporters are called - are responsible for the blast on the Gaza beach Friday night that left five Hamas men and a 4-year-old girl dead.
The blast occurred at about 8:30 P.M. at the Khalil cafe, a known meeting place for Hamas men.
It was followed by the toughest crackdown against Fatah in recent months.
The dead are Sarin a-Safadi, the 4-year-old; Nihad Masbakh, considered the head of the military wing of Hamas in the Shajaiyeh district of Gaza City; Iyad al-Hayeh, a nephew of one of Hamas' leaders in Gaza, Khalil al-Hayeh (whose son was also seriously injured in the blast); Nidal al-Mbayid and Osama al-Khalu. The identity of the fifth Hamas man is unknown.
More than 20 Palestinians were injured, mostly passers-by.
The explosive charge was set off under a car belonging to one of the Hamas men, which was parked outside the coffee shop.
Hamas did not accuse Israel of the explosion. "We have information that a number of parties are planning attacks on senior Hamas leaders in order to create anarchy," Khalil al-Hayeh said.
Immediately after the attack, Hamas began a wave of arrests of Fatah activists. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza reported that 160 Palestinians identified with Fatah were taken into custody.
Dozens of Hamas police also raided organizations and offices linked to Fatah. In one attempted arrest, Hamas police fired four rocket-propelled grenades at the home of a local Fatah leader and briefly exchanged fire with his guards, witnesses said. Police then searched the house, but didn't find the wanted man, Mohammed Aweidat.
Sources in Hamas said the Palestinian Authority television in Ramallah broadcast pictures of the car hit in the Gaza blast accompanied by joyful music.
An unknown faction of Fatah, al-Uda (which means the return), took responsibility for the attack, a claim, however, that could not be verified.
The Fatah movement and the Palestinian Authority denied any connection to the attack, which they described as the result of infighting among Hamas factions. An aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the crackdown is reducing prospects for eventual reconciliation.
Thousands of Hamas loyalists marched in the funeral of the explosion's victims, waving their movement's green flag. Gunmen fired automatic rifles into the air and angrily vowed revenge.
This is the third mysterious blast to shake Gaza in 24 hours, after a period of relative calm, against the backdrop of the lull in hostilities between Israel and Hamas.
Early Friday, another man was killed in Gaza in an explosion near a coffee shop. Another explosion occurred near the home of a senior Hamas figure, Marwan Abu Ras. There were no injuries from the latter blast.
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