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ICC Note: Hamas is consolidating their grip on the Palestinian areas. This should spell the end for the remaining Christians of these areas and will spell the end of any semblance of normal life for all Palestinians.

Gaza lurches towards Islamist mini-state

6/14/2007 Palestine (for the full story, go to the Times online) A new, Islamist mini-state was emerging in the Gaza Strip yesterday, as victorious Hamas forces surrounded and blew up their secular rivals’ last strongholds in bitter fighting that threw the entire future of the Middle East peace process into doubt.

Supporters of the Fatah movement fled to Egypt or surrendered as Hamas leaders predicted that they would control the entire coastal strip by the end of the week.

”This is a victory for Islam and I hope we will build our Islamic state,” said Abu Qatada, a masked 22-year-old Hamas fighter, standing outside the smouldering ruin of the Fatah security base. “We must now complete the job,” he said.

Political leaders of Fatah were also being hunted, and several hundred members of a Fatah-affiliated clan gave themselves up to Hamas militiamen after a deadly ambush. Fifty Fatah policemen crossed the border with Egypt and gave up their weapons to Egyptian troops after their positions came under Hamas rocket attacks.

“The situation is very, very bad,” Maher Mekhdad, a high-ranking Fatah official in Gaza , told The Times by mobile phone after his well-defended house was overrun by Hamas gunmen. “Hamas is going for total control of all the Gaza Strip. They want to push us into oblivion.”

Benni Eilon, an extreme right-wing member of the Israeli parliament, said that the fighting would put paid to Palestinian plans for an independent state. “The Fatah is diminishing in front of our eyes, and a group of gangsters is taking over. ”