Hamas-Fatah skirmishes reach Rafah border

Utterly sordid:

RAFAH, Gaza Strip -- Hamas gunmen seized control of the Gaza Strip's border crossing with Egypt yesterday in a ferocious gunbattle with Fatah-allied border guards after Israel blocked the Hamas prime minister from crossing with tens of millions of dollars in aid.

More than two dozen people were wounded in the fighting, deepening factional violence that has pushed the rivals closer to civil war. Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh cut short a trip abroad to return to Gaza in a bid to quell the infighting between Hamas and Fatah. While he was finally allowed to cross into Gaza late yesterday, it was unclear whether he brought money for the cash-strapped Palestinian government.

After he crossed, there was a new burst of gunfire and Haniyeh's convoy was forced to speed away. Officials said Haniyeh was unharmed.

MILITANT ARRESTED

Earlier, pro-Fatah Palestinian officers arrested a Hamas-linked militant in the killing of the three young sons of a Fatah security chief.

The militant's allies retaliated by kidnapping a security officer.
Bringing the nascent Palestinian civil war onto Egypt's border -- great. And classic move from the Israelis, although they let through Hamas MPs carrying money before. Obviously they are rather unsettled by the recent Iranian announcement that they would donate $120m to Hamas to pay government salaries.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.