Hamas, Fatah clash for control in repeated shootouts

Special to World
Thursday, May 13, 2004

RAMALLAH 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.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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