Abbas fires security chiefs

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas has sacked three top security chiefs after they failed to stop mortar attacks on Jewish settlements in Gaza.

    Abbas was furious over attacks on Jewish settlements

    Police chief General Saib al-Ajiz, the head of national security, General Abd al-Razzaq al-Majaida, and the national security chief in the southern Gaza Strip, General Umar Ashur, were all dismissed, political and security sources said on Thursday. 

    Based in Gaza, al-Majaida was the Palestinians' de facto army commander and the highest-ranking official in the sprawling security apparatus the leadership has vowed to streamline. 

    Abbas was said to be furious after members of the resistance movement Hamas were able to fire more than 30 mortar rounds and rockets at Jewish settlements, prompting Israel to cancel a top-level meeting to discuss implementation of agreements reached at Tuesday's peace summit in Egypt. 

    Security talks held

    Despite the attacks, the Israeli army commander for the Gaza Strip, Dan Harel, held talks with the territory's preventive security chief, Musa Arafat, late on Thursday, sources on both sides said. 

    Police chief General Saib al-Ajiz
    was among the sacked officials

    The Palestinian leadership deployed about 4000 security personnel across the Gaza Strip late last month with orders to prevent resistance operations. 

    "President Abbas has issued firm instructions to the security services to fully assume their responsibilities in the face of any violations," a statement from his office said. 

    "The Palestinian leadership repeats its commitment to calm agreed to with the Palestinian factions and the arrangements of the Sharm al-Shaikh summit." 

    An army spokeswoman said 22 mortar rounds landed in the main Gush Katif settlement block in southern Gaza, as well as one makeshift rocket. Three mortar rounds landed in the nearby Morag settlement, but no one was hurt. 

    Response

    Hamas' military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said the attacks were in "response to the Zionist crimes which are continuing and have cost the lives of Fathi Abu Jazar and Hasan al-Alami". 

    Al-Alami died on Wednesday in an explosion near his home in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunus, and Israel denied involvement. 

    Abu Jazar died overnight after a shooting on Wednesday in the southern town of Rafah. 

    An Israeli military source said a number of suspected fighters
    had been seen approaching a closed zone but said troops had
    responded by firing warning shots into the air "and did not identify a hit".

    SOURCE: AFP


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