The Palestinian death toll on Tuesday rose to sixteen, after gunbattles were renewed between Fatah and Hamas in Gaza late at night, causing five fatalities in four separate incidents. One was a 17-year-old boy caught in the crossfire. Another was a journalist for a Hamas-affiliated newspaper.
The Shifa Hospital in Gaza said it was having trouble dealing with the number of casualties pouring in and was in dire need of blood donations.
Earlier in the day, Hamas gunmen attacked a Palestinian Presidential Guard's training camp near the Karni crossing. Eight people were killed and 20 were injured in the original attack. Another Palestinian officer who escaped toward the border fence was shot to death by IDF soldiers.
Later, armed Hamas forces surrounded a Palestinian police center in northern Jabalia, while other armed Hamas forces barricaded themselves inside Gaza's Islamic University. Hamas officials warned that if the university is attacked, even "the house of (Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas) will not be safe."
Hamas accused IDF soldiers of assisting the Presidential Guard officers. The officials said the Israeli army allowed a number of Fatah affiliated security officers to enter its territory to escape from Hamas attacks. A Palestinian security official denied the report.
Fatah officials blamed both Hamas and the IDF for the incident, claiming that Hamas was planning a military coup in the Palestinian Authority.
The crossing, which is one of the Presidential Guard's main posts in the Gaza Strip and is also used as a Fatah training camp, was closed due to the exchanges of fire.
According to the reports, Hamas member attacked the post using mortar shells and then executed some of the Fatah members.
Three of shells landed on Israeli territory near Kibbutz Nahal Oz. There were no reports of injuries, but the shells caused slight damage.
Injured Palestinian evacuated (Photo: AFP)
Hamas members claimed that all the Palestinians killed in the incident were hit by an IDF shell. Army officials denied the accusation. Hamas said it would respond to the incident by firing Qassam rockets at Israel.
Hamas officials said that the attack was a response to the killing of Ibrahim Maniyeh, the commander of the organization's military wing in the Sajaiyah neighborhood located near the crossing.
IDF mistakes PA officers for gunmen
Palestinians reported that all the men killed in the attack were members of the Palestinian Presidential Guard.
As for the Palestinian killed by IDF fire, the army reported that soldiers had spotted two suspicious Palestinians near the border fence, south of the Karni crossing. The force shot at them and hit them.
IDF sources confirmed that the two were apparently Palestinian police officers who fled the attacked post, but said that when the incident happened the troops suspected they were gunmen approaching the border fence.
The attack was carried out despite the great efforts exerted Monday night by Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to end the infighting between the rival Fatah and Hamas factions.
The attack proved once again that the Palestinian prime minister's had very limited control over his organization's military wing.
Due to the escalation in Gaza, universities in the Strip did not resume classes for the second day in a row. A Palestinian parliament session scheduled to take place Tuesday was cancelled.
IDF following incident closely
The Karni crossing incident came after a long period of time in which the crossing had operated with almost no interruptions. The District Coordination Office (DCO) reported of a significant rise in the exports and imports of goods from and to Gaza, leading to a slight improvement in the Palestinian economy.
The IDF is looking into the clashes at the crossing. Security sources noted that Hamas was attempting to get Israel involved in the internal conflict by spreading testimonies that Israel allegedly helped Fatah.
The army will hold discussions on the future of the Karni crossing and will decide whether to reopen it on Wednesday. Military officials said that Hamas' takeover of posts located near the crossing could constitute a security risk.
Hanan Greenberg and Shmulik Hadad contributed to the report