Middle East Newsline, http://www.menewsline.com
The Fatah militia has received extended-range rockets for attacks on Israel.
Palestinian sources said the Fatah militia has acquired its first BM-21 Katyusha rockets since the 1982 war in Lebanon. They said the rockets were transferred by the Iranian-sponsored Islamic Jihad in an arrangement approved by the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip.
“They will fire rockets into Israel in coordination with Hamas,” a Palestinian source said.
On Feb. 28, Fatah claimed to have fired its first BM-21 rocket into Israel. The Katyusha was said to have struck south of the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon in an attack in which nobody was reported injured.
“The rocket was fired at 8:30 p.m. in response to Israeli attacks on Jerusalem,” Fatah said.
Over the last two years, Hamas has permitted the restoration of the Fatah militia in the Gaza Strip. Until 2012, Fatah fired occasional mortars toward communities in southern Israel.
The sources said the Fatah acquisition of Katyushas did not appear linked to the signing of a reconciliation agreement with Hamas on Feb. 6. They said Hamas preferred to allow others, particularly Fatah, to take responsibility for missile and rocket attacks against Israel to avoid massive retaliation.
Fatah said the reconciliation agreement has not lifted Hamas restrictions on political activity in the Gaza Strip. The head of the Fatah delegation, Azzam Ahmed, said Hamas has prevented activity by the Central Elections Committee, assigned to prepare Palestinian Authority elections as early as May 2012.
“It has been agreed that CEC will start working in Dec. 23, 2011,” Ahmed said on Feb. 28. “Two months and a week later, Hamas still prevents the commission from working in the Gaza Strip without reason.”