Increasing anarchy in the Palestinian Authority: Wednesday morning, anonymous gunmen shot and killed a judge in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza.
Palestinian sources reported that the four gunmen got out of a civilian vehicle and opened fire at Judge Bassem el-Fara, who was killed on the spot.
This is the second murder of a Palestinian judge this week: Three days prior, Judge Jamal Abu Salim was killed in the same area.
PA sources posit that the shootings are related to increasing tension between Hamas and Fatah. According to the sources, el-Fara was affiliated with Hamas.
Tuesday, violent confrontations continued in Gaza, pursuant to the murder of three of Fatah senior intelligence officer Baha Ba'alousha's children Monday. Four people were wounded in the altercation.
Four children were injured during two youth protests on Tuesday, two in Jabalia and two in Khan Younis.
Concurrently, hundreds of Palestinian security officials from Fatah protested the incident in a few of Gaza City's main intersections. During the protests, the officials fired shots in the air and called for vengeance.
Tuesday night, confrontations between the two factions continued as gunmen shot at the vehicle of a Hamas parliament member and at the home of the commander of a special Hamas government security force in Jabalia.
The escalating violence spread to the West Bank as well: A senior Hamas official was rescued after an assassination attempt near Jenin, apparently undertaken by Fatah operatives. The official, Ibrahim Saabna, sustained injuries to his legs and was declared to be in moderate condition.
Three Hamas operatives were wounded in Ramallah, according to witnesses, most likely by Fatah gunmen.
Fatah operatives reported that Hamas members in the area were covering pictures of former prime minister Yasser Arafat (Fatah) with fliers depicting Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh (Hamas).
Finger pointing in both directions
Members of Fatah blame Hamas operatives, particularly members of the special government security force, for the shooting. Hamas, needless to say, denies the allegations.
Palestinian Interior Minister Said Siyam of Hamas rejected accusations that the current anarchy raging in the PA is the results of Hamas government policy, saying, "It's strange that the situation intensified after Fatah announced that unity government talks are at a stand- still."
According to Siyam, internal security is not only the responsibility of the interior minister and the government, but of Abbas as well, who is considered the general commander of Palestinian security forces.
"The recent kidnapping of journalists and many of the recent violent incidents were actually carried out by Fatah. We (Hamas) on the other hand, fired operatives who were involved in aberrant incidents," Siyam explained.
"Our requests to the Fatah-affiliated security forces to detain the operatives responsible for the kidnapping were rejected, and Fatah continues to support them," he added.
Taking the Hamas party line of recent days, Siyam emphasized that Fatah officials, who oppose a unity government and want to dismantle the Hamas government, are those who truly benefit from the childrens' murder and the subsequent deterioration of the security situation.
Many Hamas officials go on to claim that it is the Fatah operatives themselves who are behind the murder, and that it is they who attempted to assassinate Ba'alousha as part of score-settling and infighting within the party.