Warning of 'civil war' in Gaza strip

AFTER the worst outbreak of violence between rival Palestinian groups in the Gaza strip for several years, a senior Palestinian leader warned yesterday that civil war could break out in the occupied territories ahead of the new round of peace talks.

Last night clashes broke out in the Beach Camp refugee enclave after supporters of the Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist group, Hamas, appealed through the mosques for peace.

The mosques in the camp were immediately attacked by militants from the rival Fatah faction, the mainstream group of the Palestine Liberation Organisation which has been involved in clashes with Hamas for several days, resulting on Tuesday in the death of a 16-year-old boy.

The call from the mosques which echoed around the camp pleaded for women and children and families of political prisoners to come out on to the street to prevent further bloodshed between the two groups. Thousands of Beach Camp residents responded to the appeal but Israeli soldiers were swiftly on the scene to disperse the militants.

The violence appears to have been sparked by a tussle for power as the prospect of autonomy for the occupied territories has increased with the election of Yitzhak Rabin, the Labour leader, as Prime Minister. Mr Rabin has promised to implement autonomy within six to nine months.

The Hamas group has in the past rejected all involvement with the peace process and now accuses the PLO faction of giving in to Israeli and US conditions for peace.

The head of the Palestinian delegation to the talks, Haidar Abdel Shafi, yesterday warned that 'civil war' could break out in Gaza before the new round of talks starts in Rome within the next few weeks.

On the walls of Gaza's Islamic University the depth of the animosity between the fundamentalists and the PLO group was yesterday writ large.

Hamas accused Fatah of a plot to eliminate the Islamic movement and its leaders. 'With the great growth of the Islamic movement and also after the Israeli election, Fatah is trying to spread the propaganda of their allies in the Labour party. It is using a terrorist plot against Hamas.' The words were signed by the El Kassen Brigade, the armed wing of Hamas.

The fundamentalists of Hamas, who reject the peace process, accuse the Palestinian leadership, many of whom support Fatah, of being in the hands of the Israelis and of carrying out what they say is the West's plan to have Hamas eliminated. The Fatah faction says Hamas is provoking the violence to assert its strength before autonomy is achieved. Both sides suspect Israeli provocation.

Inside the Islamic University, Abdel Aziz Rentisi, a founder of the Hamas movement in 1987, accused Yasser Arafat, the PLO leader, of kowtowing to the West by talking peace. 'The Islamic movement will be the victim of the peace process,' said Dr Rentisi, a paediatrician and lecturer at the university. Although Hamas rejects the peace process, Dr Rentisi said the organisation would participate in the autonomy election.

He attacked Fatah leaders for calling for an end to the killing of Palestinians who collaborate with the Israelis. 'Fatah is going to stop Hamas from attacking the Jews and collaborators on the orders of the US,' he said.

The violence started when Hamas said it had unearthed a plot by Fatah to kidnap and kill Hamas leaders - but Dr Rentisi would not reveal the evidence. Hamas distributed letters to Fatah activists threatening them with death. In reply Fatah threatened to kill Hamas's 'scum leadership'. After the war of leaflets came the real war between the Fatah Hawks - formerly called the Black Panthers - and the El Kassen Brigade. Scores have been injured after clashes in refugee camps.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
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

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all