Sporadic clashes between Hamas and Fatah
A fierce gunbattle was reported between Hamas and Fatah fighters in Gaza City early Friday, despite a two-day old truce. The street battle erupted when Hamas men tried to free two kidnapped members, including a senior one. It ended after 20 minutes as clerics and other mediators worked to restore the cease-fire. Nobody was hurt, health officials said. The violence came after a Hamas member, Mahmoud Al-Lali, was kidnapped late Thursday night by armed men, who fired assault rifles in the streets and seriously wounded a bystander.
Hamas said its fighters exchanged fire with Fatah-affiliated members behind the kidnappings. The fight quickly spread, drawing in guards outside the residence of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, and Hamas gunmen guarding the home of Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar of Hamas Zahar.
In Gaza City on Friday, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas urged gunmen to spare Palestinian blood, and said government officials were working to bring the violence under control.
A week of factional violence in Gaza has killed 16 people and left dozens wounded across Gaza before the truce took effect Tuesday night.
Hamas blamed the Thursday night abductions on a clan affiliated with Fatah that was trying to avenge the deaths of two its members in an earlier round of fighting. In Friday's battle, gunmen on rooftops fired at others in the streets. The presidential guard took up defensive positions behind newly built walls of sandbags and barriers of cement blocs outside Abbas' residence, the AP reported.
Hamas officials said the Fatah gunmen shot at Zahar's home. One witness said several rocket-propelled grenades were also launched.
In the West Bank, gunmen from Fatah opened fire on Hamas members in the city of Nablus on Friday, wounding at least three people, hospital officials and witnesses said. At least one of the wounded was said to be in very serious condition.
Witnesses said the gunmen opened fire as about 200 Hamas activists and armed men were preparing for a rally in the city of Nablus.