High tension in Gaza is set to continue following a split within the ruling Palestinian Fatah party. A dispute within the party ranks has led to a new faction submitting its own list of candidates to run for legislative parliamentary elections at the end of January.The rebel list is headed by jailed activist Marwan Barghouti, under the new name of Al-Mustaqbal or “The Future.” The breakaway movement deals a big blow to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and those described as the party “old guard.”
The split within Fatah came as Israel launched air strikes in the Gaza Strip, killing four Palestinian militants.Sources say a member of the Islamic Jihad movement was also injured. Israel has stepped up the frequency of its military attacks since a suicide bombing in Netanya last week in which five Israelis died. The division within Fatah also occurred the day after the Palestinian Central Elections Committee briefly suspended operations when Fatah gunmen stormed offices demanding that polls be delayed. A gun battle followed between the armed men and the police. Such events have raised concerns that the January elections could be hit by violence or even postponed.