Eight killed as factional feuding erupts into Gaza gun battles

Eight Palestinians were killed and at least 50, including many civilians, were injured in Gaza yesterday in the worst outbreak of violence between Hamas and Fatah since the legislative elections last January.

The running gun battles in Gaza City between forces of Hamas and those loyal to the President, Mahmoud Abbas, came after the virtual collapse of talks on a putative "national unity" coalition government.

They also follow six months of mounting tensions aggravated by the non-payment of salaries to Palestinian Authority employees because of the international economic blockade imposed on Hamas for refusing to recognise Israel.

The fighting overshadowed the possibility that Israel would escalate its three-and-a-half-month military operations against Palestinian militants in Gaza. Dan Halutz, the Israeli chief of staff, said that discussions were under way on "a more continued and deeper ground action" as one means of halting Qassam rocket attacks on the Negev border town of Sderot.

The Palestinian violence will also be the backdrop to a visit to the region by Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State.

Ms Rice is expected to promote proposals for using Mr Abbas's presidential guard to provide security at the Karni crossing between Israel and Gaza, whose frequent closures have helped to bring the economy to near-collapse. Israeli officials said they hoped to discuss ways of boosting Mr Abbas's standing as a counterweight to Hamas.

The most serious exchanges of fire took place near the parliament building in Gaza City and close to the official residence of Mr Abbas, who was not in Gaza. After a crowd of anti-Hamas demonstrators grew to include hundreds of police and civilians, the pro-Hamas militiamen ­ ordered by the Interior Minister, Said Siyam, to quell such protests ­ opened fire. Theyexchanged fire on two of Gaza's main streets, mainly with Fatah security personnel. As Hamas Radio accused Mr Abbas of fomenting Palestinian unrest, Tawfiq Abu Khoussa, a Fatah spokesman, accused Hamas of "shedding Palestinian blood" and using excessive force.

The Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called for an end to the violence, and criticised the military for their role in the fighting. His views were echoed by Mr Abbas, who said the violence was unacceptable.

"These confrontations have crossed the red line, which we have avoided crossing for four decades," he said in a speech from the Jordanian capital, Amman. "I instruct the attorney general to begin an investigation and those involved will be prosecuted."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?