Rising tensions in the Palestinian Authority: At least 10 Palestinians were wounded in confrontations between gunmen loyal to Hamas and Fatah, one of the men was reportedly in critical condition. Witnesses told Ynet that some of the wounded are bystanders and protestors who were beaten by Palestinian security forces seeking to clear the streets, primarily from the center of town which was declared a closed military zone.
Witnesses added that PA security forces have begun covering their faces with masks as they try to overpower protestors and gunmen from both factions, mostly against Hamas. The atmosphere in the city is reminiscent of a battlefield say residents against the soundtrack of massive gunfire.
Haniyeh arriving at his home, Thursday night (Photo: AFP)
PA police declared central Ramallah a closer military zone early Friday morning after both Hamas and Fatah announced they plan to hold marches in the city after Friday prayers. Large numbers of Palestinian security forces have begun to spread out throughout the city.
Tensions between the warring factions escalated after an attempt on the life of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza on Thursday raised the already considerable tensions in Gaza.
Hamas have already explicitly blamed the Presidential Guard and President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement for the attack, or at least for the incitement they say may have led to the attempt on Haniyeh's life.
"Sooner or later we will even the score with the murderers, the people will even the score with them," said Jamal Nassar, a PA member of parliament on behalf of Hamas. Fatah adamantly deny the accusations.
One of Haniyeh's bodyguards was killed in the attempt, Haniyeh's son, an advisor to the PM and several other men from his entourage were wounded.
Hamas officials pointed their fingers at the Presidential Guard while Parliament Member Nassar singled out Fatah security officials like Muhammad Dahlan, saying that they are responsible for the attempt.
Tensions are expected to peak again later on Friday during the funeral of Haniyeh's slain bodyguard. Gaza sources say that there are concerns that Hamas loyalists may try to avenge his death and the attempt on Haniyeh by targeting PA security forces, specifically the Presidential Guard.
Hamas are already still seeking revenge over the murder of a Khan Younis Hamas judge who
was killed on his way to work this week.
Further adding to the strain is Abbas' expected speech over the weekend, where he may announce the dismissal of the government, holding a referendum or early elections. At the very least Abbas is expected to give an ultimatum towards taking these measures.
Hamas have said that any attempt to dissolve the government or parliament constitutes a coup, officials have further warned that the group will forcibly contest any such decision.
Thursday evening Hamas gunmen and Presidential Guard troops exchanged fire for several hours prior to Haniyeh's return from Egypt.
Earlier on Thursday Fatah and PA Intelligence troops exchanged fire with Hamas and the Hamas-allied Popular Resistance Committees in the area of Jabaliya. Gunmen tried to storm an Intelligence forces outpost after the arrest of a PRC member charged in connection to the murder of three children belonging to a senior PA Intelligence officer.