The Associated Press is reporting from Gaza that there have been many casualties in fighting that broke out today at a Fatah rally commemorating the third anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat. Figures are still coming in, but reports indicate that at least five persons have been killed, and 50 wounded.
It was the worst clash between the two largest Palestinian groups since Hamas routed Fatah in a military take-over of the Gaza Strip in mid-June.
AP reported that “Fatah officials accused Hamas forces of opening fire from the nearby Islamic University. Hamas said its men had come under attack from Fatah gunmen and shot back”.
AP said in its report that: “The emotional memorial event for Arafat had given Fatah a rare chance to assemble its supporters in the Gaza Strip. Abbas has rejected any renewed dialogue with Hamas until the group relinquishes control of the Gaza Strip. Hamas has banned opposition rallies since its takeover of the territory but any move to prevent a remembrance ceremony for Arafat, the iconic leader who died on November 11, 2004, would have been widely unpopular among Palestinians … WAFA news agency, run by Abbas’s office, accused Hamas of stealing dozens of pictures of Arafat and 30,000 headdresses symbolizing the late leader, that came through an Israeli-run border crossing point earlier in the day. A pro-Hamas Internet site quoted a Hamas security official as saying trucks carrying yellow Fatah flags and hats were seized ‘at a time when the Gaza Strip is being deprived of basic goods and medicine’.” The AP report on the clashes and casualties at a Fatah rally in Gaza city is here