Palestinians in Gaza are Playing in Civil War
by Ibrahim Barzak
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Palestinian gunmen killed three young sons of a senior Palestinian intelligence officer Monday, pumping dozens of bullets into their car as it passed through a street crowded with schoolchildren in an apparent botched assassination attempt that could ignite widespread factional fighting.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the drive-by attack, which left the schoolbags and a small plastic bag with a sandwich covered in blood.
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Senior officials in the intelligence service, which is loyal to the
Fatah Party of President Mahmoud Abbas, blamed the Islamic militant group Hamas for the shooting. Balousheh, a Fatah member, was a lead interrogator in a crackdown on Hamas a decade ago.
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In the attack, gunmen in two vehicles riddled the car carrying the children with some 60 bullets, Palestinian security officials said. Balousheh's three sons — Osama, 9, Ahmed, 6, and Salam, 3 — were killed, in addition to an adult, hospital officials said. Balousheh was not in the car.
The car was soaked in blood. A child's backpack, emblazoned with cartoon characters and the word "Friend," lay on the front seat, covered in blood. Another schoolbag was in the back.
Four more people were wounded in the attack on Palestine Street, which is lined with nine schools. The attack sent children in the area running for cover, some dropped to the ground, others fled in panic.
"We saw fire coming from one car. We started screaming and children started running," said Fadwa Nablus, 12, who had been walking to school with her 9-year-old brother.
Hours after the attack, black smoke hovered over the schools.
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Security officials said they believed the shooting was an attempt to assassinate Balousheh, noting that the car's windows were tinted, blocking a view of the passengers. Gunmen had twice before tried to kill Balousheh.
"Palestinian security has opened an investigation into the incident, which we consider the ugliest" in the growing chaos in Gaza, the officials said in a statement.
The Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry, which is responsible for security, promised a speedy investigation.
However, a senior intelligence officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he believed Hamas was behind the attack.
In a statement, the intelligence service stopped just short of accusing Hamas, saying the shooting was the latest in a series of attacks on intelligence officers that the service has blamed on the Islamic group and its allies.
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