Tensions are not expected to subside anytime soon in the Palestinian Authority as a particularly bloody day of infighting comes to an end in Gaza.
On Wednesday the Fatah movement declared a state of high alert amongst its ranks in Gaza, calling for them to adjust their deployment following the deaths of three officers from the Fatah-affiliated Palestinian Preventive Security Service (PPSS) and an additional Fatah loyalist in clashes earlier in the day.
Members were called to "be prepared and defend themselves by any means in the face of attack."
Fatah has accused Hamas of instigating the violence and for the wave of kidnappings that plagued Gaza on Tuesday, when no less than 23 people were abducted by both organizations.
A woman who was uninvolved in the fighting was also killed today after she was caught in the crossfire between Hamas and Fatah gunmen in Jabaliya.
While the focus of the clashes remains in northern Gaza, representatives from Hamas and Fatah in southern Gaza struck an agreement to end the violence late Wednesday evening. It remains unclear if this agreement will bring to the fighting to an end.
An Egyptian delegation has been trying to bring the warring factions to a compromise for the past several months and has even met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as part of their efforts.
However past agreements between the two groups have rarely lasted and Fatah's declaration of high-alert indicates the tension is only on the rise.
Fatah: Hamas blocking ambulances
Palestinians sources say that in all, 10 Palestinians have been kidnapped by both Hamas and Fatah throughout Wednesday. Among the abductees are three 17 year-old youths, nephews of a senior PPSS officer loyal to Fatah.
Fatah also claims that Hamas gunmen have set up roadblocks and are conducting searches throughout northern and southern Gaza. Fatah says the roadblocks are preventing ambulances from reaching the conflict zones and tend to the wounded.
A spokesman for the Fatah organization in Gaza, Mahar Maqddad, accused Hamas of assassinating members of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service and a Fatah operative in Gaza on Wednesday.
"Fatah will not remain silent in the face of these crimes perpetrated by Hamas," said the spokesman. Maqddad called on the factions to uphold the ceasefire agreement and make sure that Hamas honors it as Fatah has.
Gunmen around every corner
Later in the evening Palestinian sources reported that senior Fatah military wing leader Hassan al-Qasas, member narrowly escaped an assassination attempt after gunmen fired an RPG towards him and another senior group member. Fatah has blamed Hamas for the attack.
Ahmad Sarur, a resident of Beit Lahiya, told Ynet on Wednesday that the situation in northern Gaza is "very frightening." Sarur says that masked gunmen are positioned at every junction and along every route. According to Sarur the gunmen interrogate people on the street and search them.
"Everywhere you go there are masked Hamas fighters," he described his surroundings, "Fatah is nowhere to be seen in the streets, Hamas has taken control of things here."
Sarur said that residents are embittered about the situation and that there seems to be no solution to the crisis.
"We elected a government so that it would bring change to the security situation, but its only gotten worse and is deteriorating," he said, "no one goes anywhere in the north (of Gaza), people only want to stay in their homes so as not to be caught in the crossfire between Hamas and Fatah."
The violence started early on Wednesday with the shooting of a Fatah member in Beit Lahiya. His family members, along with other Fatah gunmen, blocked nearby roads and chanted anti-Hamas slogans.
In another incident Wednesday a Hamas member was wounded after a bomb he was working on apparently detonated prematurely in Gaza City.
The wounded man serves as Interior Minister Sayeed Siyam’s bodyguard. Another Hamas member died Tuesday under similar circumstances.