Israel will not respond militarily to the takeover over of the Gaza Strip by the Islamic fighters of Hamas, an Israeli Cabinet minister said on Thursday.
"There is no intention to re-enter that swamp, Gaza, in this situation. At this point, Israel has no reason to intervene," Housing Minister Meir Sheetrit told Israel Radio.
In five days of fighting in the crowded and chaotic territory, Hamas gunmen defeated their rivals from Fatah with surprising swiftness, seizing their security installations and marching once-feared Fatah fighters down the street shirtless and with hands raised. The violence left more than 90 people dead.
The Palestinian territories have essentially been split into two parts. Gaza is now under the control of Hamas, an Islamist movement with close ties to Syria and Iran. The West Bank, home to most of the Palestinian population, is dominated by the more moderate Fatah, which has ties to Israel and the West.
Safe in his office in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah declared a state of emergencyon Thursday, firing the Hamas-led government and it's Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
But whatever power Abbas once wielded in Gaza disappeared with the collapse of his forces there. Haniyeh brushed off Abbas' decision, calling it "hasty" and refusing to leave office. The situation was "not suitable for unilateral decisions," Haniyeh said.
"The era of justice and Islamic rule has arrived," Hamas spokesman Islam Shahawan announced.