Abbas sacks Palestinian government

State of emergency is declared after Hamas fighters overrun security compounds in Gaza.

    Hamas fighters are now in control of most of Gaza. [Reuters]

    Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera's Gaza correspondent said the compound had been shelled by mortar fire for the last two days.

    Gaza witness

    A resident tells Al Jazeera of the violence in her area

    Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas, said presidential guards were reported to have literally abandoned their positions meaning there was no battle for control of the facility as there had been with other security buildings.

    'Worthless' decision

    Tayeb Abdel Rahim, an aide to Abbas, said in Ramallah that an interim government would run the Palestinian Authority and hinted that new elections could be held.

    Hamas rejected the Palestinian president's decision, describing it as "worthless".
    Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas official, said: "Hamas rejects the Abbas decisions. In practical terms these decisions are worthless.
    "Prime Minister [Ismail] Haniya remains the head of the government even if it was dissolved by the president."
    Abbas considers the Hamas fighters who have seized control of most of the Fatah-allied security headquarters in Gaza to be an "outlaw militia", Abdel Rahim said.
    Late on Thursday, Hamas said it seized the last security bases occupied by forces loyal to Fatah in Gaza, leaving it in almost total control of Gaza.
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    In the West Bank city of Ramallah, Fatah supporters celebrated Abbas's decision in the centre of the city.
    Nour Odeh said: "No celebrations here as no-one is able to come out onto the streets and express their opinion. Gaza is still in lockdown.
    "Implementing of this state of emergency will depend a lot on regional support, from Arab states, and on an acceptance from Israel of Palestinian efforts to enforce some sort of law and order."
    Abbas's statement also indicated that he could call for early elections if the situation in the Palestinian territories stabilises.
    "The president is determined to go back to the people as soon as the situation on the ground allows him to do so," Abdel-Rahim said.
    The next parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2010 and presidential elections are set for 2009.
    Hamas offensive
    At least 110 people have been killed in the last six days in the worst factional violence since Hamas won a parliamentary election last year.
    Fatah-allied forces in Gaza were on the run on Thursday after Hamas captured their key security buildings.
    Witnesses reported executions of Fatah officials by Hamas fighters.
    In the centre of Gaza City Hamas fighters seized control of a security compound after the expiry of a deadline for its occupants to surrender.
    Hamas's trademark green flags were later observed fluttering from the rooftop of the heavily fortified Preventive Security headquarters.

    Hamas fighters were on the
    move in Gaza [AFP]

    The Fatah fighters inside were led away, bare-chested, after surrendering. Their fate was unclear. 
    An intelligence compound in Gaza City was also taken hours later.
    A bomb also ripped through a Gaza studio of the official Voice of Palestine radio which is close to Fatah, forcing the station to stop broadcasting, witnesses said.
    Some Fatah supporters retaliated against Hamas in the West Bank, shooting and wounding a Hamas man near Ramallah, seizing Hamas supporters in the towns of Jenin and Nablus,
    Businesses owned by Hamas supporters were also targeted by angry crowds, their offices stormed and equipment hurled from the windows.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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