Despite attempts to preserve the relative calm, the internal strife between Hamas and
Fatah is threatening to spread from Gaza to the West Bank, as Palestinian security forces are planning to round up Hamas gunmen and supporters starting Sunday night.
Fatah is responding to the arrest of at least 200 of its members by Hamas security personnel in Gaza over the past two days.
The recent conflict broke out Friday evening, when five Hamas men and a girl were killed in an explosion outside a cafeteria on the beach in Gaza City. Hamas blamed Fatah for the blast, while President Mahmoud Abbas' faction
denied any responsibility.
A Palestinian security officer told Ynet that since Saturday night some 40 Hamas men were detained, mainly in Tulkarem.
"The reason for the arrests is the arrests Hamas is conducting in Gaza," he said, and estimated that a total of 200 Islamist group figures will be detained by the end of the current wave of arrests.
Hamas security forces have set up roadblocks throughout the Strip in search of arms, explosives and suspects. Among those detained are members of The Army of Islam, an organization linked to al-Qaeda. Hamas suspects the group was involved in Friday's bombing.
In the coming days Egypt is
expected to invite to all of the Palestinian factions for another round of reconciliation talks. During a meeting with President Hosni Mubarak Sunday, Abbas said he supported the establishment of an independent inquiry committee comprised of Palestinians and human rights activists to probe the Gaza blast.
However, Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said evidence gathered at the scene of the explosion indicated Fatah's involvement in the attack.
"The murders in Gaza prove once more that Fatah is not interested in true dialogue with Hamas but is instead trying to sow anarchy and destruction," he said.
Meanwhile, the crackdown on Fatah institutions in Gaza is continuing, deeming Abbas' call for dialogue almost irrelevant. Sources both in the PA and Gaza estimate that the current flare-up will escalate.