NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Tuesday, January 20th
BY MATTHEW KALMAN in Jerusalem, ERICA SILVERMAN in Ramallah, West Bank, and HELEN KENNEDY in New York
DAILY NEWS WRITERS
Israeli troops marched home Monday but there was no end to the bloodshed in Gaza as Hamas began carrying out vicious reprisals against suspected collaborators.
Members of the rival Fatah party said dozens of their men were executed by Hamas, allegedly for helping Israel target Hamas, and several were being tortured.
Three Fatah men had their eyes put out during "interrogation" by Hamas thugs and as many as 80 Fatah members were either shot in the legs or had their hands broken for defying Hamas' house-arrest orders.
"What's happening in the Gaza Strip is a new massacre that is being carried out by Hamas against Fatah," said a Fatah activist in Gaza City. "Where were these cowards when the Israeli Army was here?"
Israeli troops and tanks that poured into Gaza Jan. 3 were in full retreat. Officials told the Haaretz newspaper that they aimed to have every soldier out by Barack Obama's inauguration at noon Tuesday.
Obama and incoming Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have signaled they plan a hands-on Middle East policy. The Bush administration, until recent years, has been largely hands off.
Internal Palestinian schisms are certain to complicate matters for the new administration.
Hamas and Fatah have been bitter rivals since June 2007, when Hamas launched a bloody coup against the government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, killing about 400 Fatah supporters and maiming many others.
The issue of collaboration is urgent in Gaza because Israel was able to pinpoint the secret locations of many Hamas homes and offices - suggesting the use of high-level informants.
Hamas repeatedly accused Abbas and his men of backing the three-week Israeli assault on Gaza that ended Sunday.
Hamas legislator Salah Bardaweel said Fatah "spies" helped Israel to assassinate Hamas security chief Said Siam, who was killed in a missile strike on his brother's home last week.
Bardaweel said informants reported directly to Abbas' office in the West Bank.
Fatah's paramilitary wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, distributed leaflets begging Hamas to "respect the blood of the Palestinian martyrs" and leave Fatah members alone.
A Fatah official told the Jerusalem Post that Hamas' failure to stand up to Israel's assault on Gaza is fueling their intramural fury.
"They were afraid to confront the Israeli Army and many Hamas militiamen even ran away during the fighting," he said. "Hamas is now venting its anger and frustration against our Fatah members there."
Gaza residents said Hamas had commandeered schools and other public buildings as temporary detention centers, where prisoners were being systematically tortured.
At the start of the Israeli bombing campaign, several Fatah prisoners taken to the Shifa Hospital in Gaza were executed as they lay in their beds.
Relatives of Abed al-Gharabli, a Fatah security officer who spent 12 years in an Israeli prison, said he was kidnapped by a group of Hamas militiamen who shot him in both legs after severely torturing him.