Gaza Strip: Three dead in Hamas, Islamic Jihad clashes
Two Palestinians died Thursday in Gaza City as Hamas and Islamic Jihad continued their violent clashes over the right to fire weapons in public.
Islamic Jihad said its men were ambushed early Thursday by Hamas activists, dragged out of a mosque and shot in the legs. Another man, Nidal al-Daya, was shot in the head, Islamic Jihad said.
A bystander, Salah al-Amoudi, who happens to be a Fatah official, was shot dead by masked gunmen shortly after as he was making his way home from the mosque, witnesses and hospital officials said, according to the AP. The Hamas-run Interior Ministry issued a statement saying an investigation has been launched into the killing of al-Amoudi.
"We are not going to hesitate with anyone violating the law and trying to sabotage the stability in Gaza," the statement read. "We are going to put an end to all the chaos and use of arms in our country."
The clashes started Tuesday night, when Islamic Jihad gunmen fired in the air in celebration during a wedding. On Wednesday, Hamas' Executive Forces fired a rocket at a house in Gaza City and traded fire with Islamic Jihad gunmen inside, wounding 10 people, hospital officials said. One Hamas man later died of his wounds, Hamas said.
Hamas said in a statement that the Islamic Jihad militants were ordered to hand over their weapons but failed to do so, and "we implemented the law." Hamas spokesman Islam Shahwan told reporters that a group of the Forces was tasked to arrest a gunman for firing in the air during the wedding, but the shooter's family, along with Islamic Jihad gunmen, opened fire at the Executive Forces patrol.
"We were shocked with the fire that came from the family's house and caused the death of Hussam Abu al-Khair," Shahwan said. Following the death of the Hamas member, the Executive Forces dispatched additional forces and surrounded the house. Paramedics said seven people were injured in the subsequent violence, four of them were Islamic Jihad members and three Executive Forces men.
According to Xinhua, Shahwan condemned the Islamic Jihad for "taking part with the family in firing at the policemen who were carrying their role to implement the law."
However, the Islamic Jihad dismissed Shahwan's comments. "Everything has ended yesterday but the Executive Forces returned to storm houses of our fighters and launched crackdown on them," said Khader Habib, an Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza.