Hamas operatives in Gaza completely destroyed Fatah’s security headquarters in the Gaza Strip, at the height of another day of inter-factional violence in the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas gunmen set fire to the Palestinian Preventative Security Forces building in northern Gaza, burning it to the ground. Immediately afterwards they continued on the Force 17 headquarters – Fatah’s general and military intelligence staff, and destroyed it as well.
Destruction at Islamic University (Photo: AFP)
The attacks came in apparent response to Fatah’s raid on the Hamas’ Agriculture Ministry earlier Saturday, in search of weapons and gunmen in hiding.
Ceasefire collapses once again
Less than a day after another ceasefire agreement was attained between Fatah and Hamas, on Saturday morning violence between the factions erupted anew, and at least eight Palestinian were wounded.
Severe gun battles erupted on the streets of Gaza City, near President Mahmoud Abbas’ office and the Palestinian security headquarters in the city center. Witnesses reported that gunmen from both camps were positioned in the area and there was heavy gunfire.
Early Saturday afternoon Hamas gunmen set fire to the Palestinian Authority’s Preventative Security Forces headquarters, burning it to the ground.
Hamas operatives also destroyed the command center of Force 17, Fatah’s general and military intelligence branch.
In attempt to establish control, Palestinian security forces set up roadblocks in Gaza City and at various strategic points throughout the Strip.
Eight people were wounded Saturday, one of them severely, in the clashes between the factions.
During the morning hours members of the Fatah-linked Palestinian presidential guard raided and vandalized the Agriculture Ministry in Gaza City, which is under Hamas authority, in search of documents, weapons and suspects.
Palestinian Agriculture Minister Muhammad al-Ara said the presidential guard completely destroyed the office and its equipment. He denied claims that the office was used as a hiding place for Hamas gunmen, and charged President Mahmoud Abbas with responsibility for the raid.
West Bank tensePalestinian Authority residents were concerned that the violence would spread to the West Bank. Saturday morning members of Fatah’s armed wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, warned that if Hamas leaders in the West Bank did not explicitly condemn the group’s conduct Gaza, then Fatah would target Hamas leaders outside the Strip.
Already Saturday morning signs of tensions rising could be seen in the West Bank, when gunmen opened fire towards a Hamas operative in Dir Istiya near Ramallah.
Meanwhile, sources in Nablus reported that Fatah operatives hurled a Molotov cocktail towards the Hamas parliamentary building in the city.
Bloody battles plagued Gaza since Thursday night. In attempt to rein in the bloodshed, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas' politburo Khaled Mashaal discussed the spiraling violence in a phone conversation Friday night and agreed to shore up a ceasefire. Abbas and Mashaal were slated to meet Tuesday in Saudi Arabia.
The conversation took place just a few hours after leaders of the rival factions said they agreed to revive an earlier truce deal, which collapsed into a day of fierce fighting. The second ceasefire, however, was short-lived as well.
Since Thursday 25 Palestinians have been killed as a result of the inter-factional violence, including four children. Additionally over 250 people were wounded. Palestinian hospitals called on citizens to donate blood as there was a shortage due to the large number of casualties being treated.