Sometimes, the bizarre nature of the Middle East defies description (all emphasis mine):
Nine Palestinians were killed and dozens hurt in battles in Gaza City between forces of the rival Hamas and Fatah movements on Saturday, prompting Israel to open its border to fleeing Fatah members.
The fighting, which lasted most of the day, was sparked when Hamas security forces tried to arrest suspects thought to be behind a July 25 bombing that killed five Hamas militants and a little girl on a Gaza beach.
Hamas blames Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas for the attack, but the secular group denies any involvement. Over the past week the two sides have engaged in tit-for-tat spates of arrests.
Hamas said two of its men were killed and medical officials reported seven more dead, mainly civilians, in Saturday’s firefights that broke out around a house belonging to the influential pro-Fatah Helis clan in the Shujwa neighbourhood of Gaza City.
More than 90 people were also wounded, including seven reported to be in a serious condition, the medical sources said.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri charged that members of the Helis family and other unidentified associates had “fired mortar rounds at the Hamas police as well as a rocket at Gaza City” from inside the Shujwa house.
Several members of the Helis clan “are responsible” for the deadly July 25 bomb attack and Hamas is determined to round up the suspects, Abu Zuhri told AFP.
But Adel Helis, a Fatah leader, denied clan members opened fire on Hamas.
“These are lies. We never fired rockets or mortar rounds. Hamas is the one committing crimes. We have asked all the Palestinian factions, Islamists and nationalists, to use their influence so that these crimes cease,” he said.
Clan leader Ahmad Helis told AFP that Hamas militants “laid siege to our house, firing mortar rounds… targeting our women and our children.”
The two main Palestinian factions have been deeply divided since Hamas expelled Abbas’s security forces from Gaza in a week of bloody street battles in June 2007, cleaving the territories into rival entities.
Abbas himself called Ahmed Helis “to express his support and denounce the Hamas attack,” according to a statement by Abbas’s office.
The Palestinian president also told Helis that “Hamas’s attacks undermine my call for national dialogue between Palestinian factions.”
Shortly after the fighting subsided, dozens of Fatah members, including Ahmed and Adel Helis, fled to the Nahal Oz crossing with Israel in a bid to escape to the West Bank city of Ramallah, home to Abbas’s headquarters.
Israel allowed a total of 150 Palestinians who put down their guns to cross as a “humanitarian measure,” an army spokesman said. The wounded were taken to hospital and the rest were transported to Ramallah.
Israel’s Magen David Adom medical services treated six Palestinians for serious wounds and three more who were lightly injured, spokesman Zaki Heller said.
Funnily enough, no one in the wider world seems to be outraged by the women and children who are being killed, not as collateral damage, but as direct targets. Equally funnily (do you hear me laughing?), no one seems to be impressed by Israel’s graciousness. This is another reminder, if one needs it, that to the Left, it’s never been about humanitarianism and “the children.” It’s always about Israel’s special, evil status in their eyes.
UPDATE: And now they’re going back home again, apparently at Abbas’ request (I guess he needs his fighters home, and not hiding in Israel).