A night of intense clashes in the Palestinian territories has left at least one man dead. He was a member of President Mahmoud Abbas’s protection force and was killed in an attack by gunmen in Gaza. There has been widespread unrest elsewhere in the Palestinian territories. It follows Abbas’s call for early elections – a move that has inflamed a conflict between his Fatah movement and the ruling Hamas group.
Gun battles broke out in several places in Gaza and a number of people were injured. Ten of thousands of supporters of both sides took to the streets in the Strip and the West Bank. Abbas’s call follows months of factional violence that has raised fears of civil war. In a speech Abbas said parliamentary and presidential elections should be held as soon as possible but that efforts to form a unity government should continue. Enraged Hamas leaders have accused the President of attempting to stage a coup.