Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has presided over a meeting of his cabinet in Gaza City, the first since militants seized control last week. Ahead of him lies the challenge of running an aid-dependant coastal strip, cut-off economically and diplomatically from Israel and the West. The Erez border crossing from Gaza into Israel is evidence of how much has changed in so little time for the Palestinians.
Hundreds, mostly thought to be Fatah loyalists, wait in line, hoping to reach the safety of the West Bank. But Israeli soldiers, searching out Hamas militants, will not let them pass. Israel has evacuated six Palestinians believed to have been wounded in last week’s fighting, while eight truckloads of rice, food and animal feed have also been allowed to pass through.
With Hamas entrenched in Gaza, and Fatah in the West Bank, observers say the Palestinians are now more divided than ever before. According to Israeli officials Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who met the US President, George Bush, at the White House yesterday, has said that Israel will not intervene militarily in Gaza.
Both leaders emphasised their support for Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah administration in the West Bank.