Dozens of Palestinian gunmen have taken over three government buildings in the Gaza Strip. In an illustration of the growing lawlessness in Gaza, about 60 members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades – an offshoot of the president’s Fatah movement – commandeered the offices to demand jobs. And in the West Bank militants seized premises of the Palestinian election commission in protest at the choice of candidates in next month’s parliamentary elections.
Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes struck the Gaza Strip in the early hours, apparently targeting two offices of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Electricity to a town in the north was cut off and deep craters were left in the road. The attacks came after Israeli leaders vowed to enforce a no-go zone in the north of the Strip, which is often used by militants for firing rockets at Israel.
Palestinian leaders are furious, claiming that carving out a buffer zone is tantamount to re-occupying the area. And militants say they will only step up the rocket salvoes if Israel attempts to enforce a no-go area, leaving hopes the Gaza pullout would lead to a speedy resumption of the peace process in tatters.