Injured Palestinians who fled this weekend’s violence in Gaza have received medical care in an Israeli hospital. They are under armed guard for now, and likely to be sent back to Gaza. Many are members of the Helles clan which Hamas claims was behind a fatal bombing in Gaza.
“It is Fatah and Hamas who are fighting in the Gaza Strip, but the victims are the Palestinian people. We faced the rockets and the missiles and the street fighting,” said clan member Atef Helles.
Israel has already handed back dozens of other Palestinians to Hamas militants waiting at the border. While Hamas is convinced the Helles clan is pro-Fatah, Last year Fatah accused the clan of not doing enough to resist the Hamas takeover of Gaza.
“We call on everyone who has run away from Gaza to come back,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. “It is their home and it is better than running to the occupiers. The Palestinian police will arrest those who return to Gaza, treat them well and release the innocent.”
180 people are said to have been allowed to cross Gaza’s northern border into the Israeli town of Ashkelon. One Israeli official said Fatah’s Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had told them to send the runaways back. But an advisor to Abbas said those wanted by Hamas could transfer to the West Bank.
“Hamas terrorists have been fighting Fatah combattants for the last few days, and clearly we have made a humanitarian gesture in this respect,” said Israel’s Welfare and Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog.
Israel has reinforced its military positions along the border with Gaza. Inside the ring of military hardware, Gazans complain of unbearable violence, and the feeling of being forgotten.