It was a sign of the times in the West Bank – Fatah militants on the roof of the parliament in Ramallah. It came at the height of a dramatic protest by members of the party over their defeat by Hamas in this week’s parliamentary election. Tensions have been soaring between Fatah and the Islamist movement which is set to replace it as the main force in government.
The gunmen forced their way into the parliament building in a show of strength. It was intended as a warning against any transfer of security responsibility to Hamas. Elsewhere there was another symbolic act. Fatah members took their protest to the gates of President Mahmoud Abbas’s residence. They have been demanding high level resignations from within his leadership.
The demonstrators were also expressing opposition to any idea of sharing power with Hamas. In Gaza the protest at the government building there was led by police officers. They too fear losing a position of influence under a new Hamas-dominated administration. There have been several clashes between the two sides since the election. Unrest over the outcome appears set to continue while the future of the Palestinian territories remains uncertain.