Hundreds of Fatah activists, angry at their party's election defeat, entered the compound of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday to pray at the grave of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
The group, which included several gunmen, were allowed into the compound by guards and peacefully proceed toward Arafat's tomb in an empty lot inside. Abbas' security force formed a cordon around the activists to prevent them from approaching the nearby building that holds the Palestinian leader's office.
Earlier Saturday, Fatah activists announced that the internal Intifada inside the organization has begun in a bid to elect a new leadership that will bring Fatah back to power.
The activists continued with their vigorous operations in order to demonstrate their protest against their leadership and demand that it resigns following the organization's defeat to Hamas in Wednesday's elections.
Hundreds of activists, including many gunmen, demonstrated in Nablus and announced that their leaders betrayed them and that the election defeat was a direct result of corruption and a failure to form an appropriate parliamentary list.
A senior Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades member, who took part in the demonstration, told Ynet that the election results constitute a Fatah defeat more than a Hamas victory.
"Because the (parliamentary) list was composed of corrupt and unpopular leaders, we lost the elections.
Therefore, we demand that the members of the Central Committee, the Revolutionary Council and all the institutions resign so that we can maintain Fatah's superiority, which was achieved through a lot of bloodshed and self-sacrifices," he said.
The senior member added that Fatah and al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades were not committed to all the current leadership's agreements. He said the protestors demand that the movement refuse to take part in a Hamas-led government.
Meanwhile, about 400 Fatah activists, including dozens of gunmen, took over the party's office in Bethlehem on Saturday and demanded that Fatah leaders resign. They announced that they do not acknowledge the leadership's authority in the area and in the entire PA territories.
Earlier Saturday, Hamas gunmen ambushed a Palestinian police patrol, wounding two officers, Gaza police said.
The shooting in the southern town of Khan Younis came just hours after an exchange of fire between Hamas gunmen and police in the same area. A Hamas member and two policemen were wounded in the firefight. One of the officers was shot in the head and remained in a coma Saturday, hospital officials said.
Security officer killed in clashes
On Friday evening, thousands of Fatah activists thronged the streets of Gaza city, calling on the Fatah leadership to quit their posts in the Palestinian Authority after the crushing defeat to rivals Hamas in the Palestinian parliamentary election.
Fatah gunmen huddled around the parliament’s building in the city and demanded Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas resigns.
Meanwhile, a security officer was killed during a demonstration in the southern town of Khan Younis after clashes erupted between Hamas and Fatah activists.
Hamas members shot at a Palestinian national security building, killing a security officer and wounding a number of people.
Thousands demonstrated at the Balata refugee camp near Nablus Friday evening in a demand that all Fatah leaders resign. The demonstrators called for the election of a new leadership and blamed the movement's leaders for the election defeat. They warned Hamas "not to provoke Fatah."
In the meantime, Fatah prisoners jailed in Israel called on the movement not to join a Hamas-led government.
Fatah leaders call for calm
In Gaza, Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades gunmen fired rounds in the air, threw stones at the parliamentary building, and set ablaze a handful of cars belonging to foreign journalists.
Fatah leaders, including Gaza strongman Mohammad Dahlan, addressed the protesters calling for calm. Dahlan organized a meeting of Fatah activists early next week during which members can submit their demands for reform in the party.
Young activists blamed Fatah’s old guard for the crushing defeat to Hamas in the parliamentary elections. Activists blamed the defeat on the old guard’s resistance to the integration of a younger generation vying for power from entering the party’s rank.
Party members will meet next week to discuss the party’s unpopularity and find ways to counter Hamas’s ascendance to power.
Fatah activists told Ynet that similar protests will be held in the West Bank next week to demand the resignation of the party’s leaders.
AP contributed to the report