The number of Palestinians killed by internal violence doubled in 2006 from the year before and is still rising, according to report presented Tuesday to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The number of Palestinians killed by fellow Palestinians rose to 345 last year from 176 the year before, according to the report from the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights.
Through the first five months of 2007, the figure - which includes both gunmen and civilians - already had reached 271, said Mamdouh al-Aker, head of the group.
He blamed the increase on rising conflict between the Islamic Hamas and Abbas' more moderate Fatah. The two set up a coalition government in March to try to put a stop to months of street fighting that resulted in heavy casualties. On Tuesday, Abbas warned that internal violence posed a serious threat to his people.
"I told the president that there is no political will to fight chaos," al-Aker said, charging that the 80,000 members of the Palestinian security forces "are incapable of protecting the homeland and its citizens." Some of the security officers have been involved in the infighting.
Among last year's Palestinian victims, 106 died in clan violence and 100 were killed by infighting and faulty weapons use, including 40 children, said Lamis Alami, director of the commission.
After the disastrous failure of the greenhouse farming business that Israel and American Jewish donors transferred to the Gaza Palestinians, it looks like the U.S. and Israel now want to back this sure winner instead.
High-ranking defense officials told the Post Wednesday that security chiefs in Abbas's office passed on a "weapons shopping list" to Gen. Keith Dayton, the US security coordinator to Israel and the Gaza Strip, in the middle of May, asking for millions of bullets and thousands of rifle magazines, hand grenades and Kalashnikov automatic rifles.
The officials said Dayton then passed the list on to the Egyptians, who would need to provide the arms and ammunition, as well as to Israel's Defense Ministry, which would need to authorize the transfer.
The defense officials said that Dayton personally recommended that Israel permit the weapons supply. Two weeks ago, in testimony before the House Subcommittee on the Middle East in Washington, Dayton stressed the importance of American efforts to bolster forces loyal to Fatah and said further help was necessary.
"We are entering a rough patch," Dayton said in reference to the recent escalation in factional fighting in Gaza, "but all is not lost and our regional partners share that sentiment. However, it is critical that those who support the legitimate authority and forces represented by President Abbas receive the critical assistance they need."
I wonder if backbones were on that "shopping list"? Fatah forces haven't really distinguished themselves in their recent clashes with Hamas fighters.