Hamas officials have condemned an attack on government buildings by gunmen loyal to the rival Fatah faction. Meanwhile Fatah figures have appealed for calm and dialogue.
Ahmed Bahar is the deputy speaker of parliament and a member of Hamas. “We condemn this cowardly action which is against our people’s nature and traditions, especially the attack on the Palestinian Legislative Council in Ramallah which represents all the Palestinian people,” he said. Former prime minister Ahmed Quorie of Fatah urged cool heads: “I think immediate dialogue to reach a good understanding is the only way now. There is no other choice because this is a very bad message to the people and even to the world about us.” President Mahmoud Abbas has imposed a state of alert in all the territories in a bid to stop what some are calling a slide towards civil war. Overnight hundreds of members of the Palestinian Authority’s preventive security force shot out the windows of the parliament building and stormed the cabinet complex. It is the most serious violence since Hamas defeated Fatah in the January election. It follows Abbas’s decision to hold a referendum that implicitlyrecognises Israel, something Hamas fiercely opposes.