VIDEO - More than 180 Fatah members who fled Gaza City following Hamas' raid on a stronghold of the Hilles clan were allowed to enter Israel through the Nahal Oz terminal after laying down their arms and undergoing an initial interrogation; 22 of those who have entered Israel were injured during the clashes.
Five of the injured were taken to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba for treatment. One of the Palestinians was reportedly in serious condition, while the other two sustained moderate and light wounds. Ten more Palestinians were taken to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon; one of them was listed in serious condition, and the rest suffered moderate and light wounds.
A number of other injured Palestinians were evacuated to Rehovot's Kaplan Medical Center.
Gaza infighting (Video: Reuters)
IDF sources said the Palestinians were allowed into Israel for humanitarian reasons, adding that dozens more have gathered near the Israel-Gaza security fence and will be permitted to enter the country in the coming hours. They will later be transferred to the West Bank, which is under Palestinian Authority control.
Soldiers escort Fatah men into Israel (Photo: Tsafrir Abayov)
Sources in Gaza said among those who were allowed entry by the IDF was Ahmad Hilles, the head of the Hilles clan, who then reportedly made his way to the West Bank along with a number of his family members who were injured during the clashes with Hamas.
The IDF has yet to confirm the report.
Officials in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' office confirmed that members of the Hilles clan entered the West Bank through Israel, but could not say whether Ahmad Hilles himself managed to flee Gaza.
Ahmad Hilles is the former head of the Tanzim in Gaza. In the past he was said to be close to a number of senior Hamas figures, including Ahmed al-Jabari, and was accused last summer of not talking part in the efforts to prevent Hamas' violent takeover of the coastal enclave.
Nine people were killed and at least 80 others were injured during Saturday's clashes between Hamas security forces and members of the Hilles clan. Hamas claims that senior Hilles clan member Abu-Ramzi Hilles was behind last week's explosion near a beach outside Gaza City, which left five Hamas men and a Palestinian girl dead.
During the raid Hamas uncovered large weapons caches, shells and explosive devices. The Islamist group also said it had arrested Zaki el-Schany, a senior Fatah figure and expert bomb maker. El-Schany is believed to have orchestrated last week's bombing along with Abu-Ramzi Hilles.
Hamas Interior Minister Said Siam said that the raid on the Hilles clan stronghold “was not aimed against the Hilles clan, which includes Hamas operatives and dozens of shahids.”
“The operation was aimed against those who wished to harm the calm that reigned over the (Gaza) Strip in the past 14 months. Some of the clan's members led an uprising against the government, harmed security officials, gave shelters to criminals, planted explosives and established a military training facility against the Hamas government,” Siam said.
Hanan Greenberg contributed to the report