Clashes pitting Palestinian against Palestinian have claimed three lives, in the most serious internal fighting since Hamas came to power. Streets near Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip were turned into a battleground as violence erupted between Hamas loyalists and rival Fatah forces, backing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. One Hamas gunman and two Fatah fighters were killed. At least 11 people were injured.
Tension was extra high today after Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas failed to resolve security disputes in talks at the weekend. The fighting followed claims by both Hamas and Fatah that members had been kidnapped by the other group.
The factions have been locked in a bitter power struggle since the militant Islamic movement ousted the long-dominant Fatah faction in January’s parliamentary elections. The violence comes amid a financial crisis caused by the freezing of aid to the Palestinian Authority by major donor countries until Hamas renounces violence, recognizes Israel’s right to exist and embraces existing peace deals.