Fighting continues between the forces of Fatah and Hamas in the occupied West Bank. Witnesses said gunmen loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah opened fire at Hamas members in the city of Nablus, wounding at least nine civilians. Thousands of Hamas activists and armed men had been preparing to rally. Violence between the rival factions erupted after Mahmoud Abbas called for early elections a week ago.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh appealed for an end to the bloodshed: “We continue to stress that all parties must abide by the reconciliation agreement. We should keep restraining ourselves in order to preserve Palestinian blood and reinforce national unity.” Meanwhile, mourning began for a civilian killed during a gunbattle between Hamas and local clan which occurred overnight.
The continuing violence accompanies political deadlock in the region. Hamas defeated the president’s Fatah party in elections in January. Hamas rejects Abbas’ call for another poll, saying it amounts to a coup.