Clashes between rival security forces have sent terrified residents fleeing from the night-time streets of Gaza City. At least four people have been wounded after fighting broke out between gunmen loyal to the Palestinian president and his Fatah party and those allied to the Hamas-led government.
Hamas deployed its new 3,000-strong force on Wednesday – a move seen by many as the latest step in the deepening power struggle between Mahmoud Abbas and the prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh. He says the new force is legitimate and will not be disbanded. The clash, which came after the two groups paraded through the streets in a show of strength, have deepened fears of civil war in Gaza. Tensions there are being exacerbated by a financial crisis since Hamas took control. In an attempt to force the Islamist government to change its policies towards Israel, the West has cut off virtually all financial aid to the Palestinians.