RAMALLAH ø Despite reconciliation efforts and operational
cooperation, the two largest Palestinian insurgency groups continue to
battle for control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Palestinian sources said the ruling Fatah party and the largest
Islamic opposition movement, Hamas, have clashed for control of major
Palestinian institutions. They included unions and universities.
The most violent confrontation between Fatah and Hamas has been in Gaza
City and the West Bank city of Nablus. In Gaza City, Hamas gunmen have
engaged in repeated shootouts with Fatah insurgents and Palestinian
Authority security officers.
In Nablus, eight Palestinians were shot and injured during a gunbattle
on May 10 in the first armed clash between the two groups in the northern
West Bank city since 2000. Palestinian sources said the shootout came amid a
heated elections campaign for control of Al Quds Open University, one of the
largest in the West Bank.
The sources said the two groups fought over the location of campaign
booths on the Al Quds campus. Within minutes, the two sides pulled knives
and then guns.
The shootout was halted by senior Fatah and Hamas representatives in
Nablus. The sources said they expected the violence to spread to other
Palestinian university campuses in the West Bank.
The Fatah-Hamas clashes come amid continuing attacks against Fatah
loyalists of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat. Fatah loyalists,
including Palestinian legislators, senior police officials and municipal
members, have been attacked and their offices vandalized.