Thursday, June 21, 2007

Few Gazans Respond to Hamas Weapon Deadline

Via (Israel) -

Few Gazans turned in their weapons on Thursday, as a Hamas deadline for arms collection expired and the group threatened harsh punishment for those who kept their guns stashed at home.

In chaotic Gaza, where defeated Fatah militants are hiding in their homes in fear of retribution and clan grudges can flare into open warfare at any moment, few believe Hamas will recover even a fraction of the estimated 400,000 firearms - nearly one for every three residents of Gaza.

Some Fatah fighters said they removed their weapons from their houses so Hamas gunmen would not find them when they conducted searches. Some hid their weapons in holes in the ground. One man said he buried his weapon beneath the family chicken coop. Others said they threw their rifles into the sea, rather than risk having them fall into Hamas hands.

"I prefer to shoot myself rather than give them my gun," said a 33-year-old Fatah-affiliated security officer who gave his name only as Abu Subhi for fear of retaliation. "I don't trust them at all."

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