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(photo credit: AP)
The number of victims in the Hamas-Fatah infighting rose to 16 early Tuesday morning when Hamas gunmen attacked the home of Hassan Abu-Rabiah, a senior Fatah official.
Medical personnel said that three women and Abu-Rabiah's 14 year-old son were killed in the attack. The gunmen kidnapped Abu-Rabiah.
The Fatah in turn torched a Hamas gunman's home.
Fatah gunmen killed a commander of Hamas's armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, Monday night. Palestinian sources reported that Fatah had kidnapped Muhammed El-Dahdouh, killed him, and thrown his body near the Palestinian TV station in Gaza.
In an earlier incident, Hamas killed Jamal Abu Il-Jidan, a senior Fatah official, at his home in Beit Lahi.
Hamas and Fatah also took their fight to two Gaza Strip hospitals earlier Monday, killing 10 people and wounding more than 25.
Separately, a Palestinian was thrown from a tall building in Gaza City in the second incident of its kind in 24 hours.
Hamas claimed that the latest cycle of violence had been initiated by a number of top Fatah officials with the aim of bringing down the Hamas-led coalition governing the Palestinian Authority. Hamas leaders said the Fatah officials, led by PA National Security Adviser Muhammad Dahlan, were receiving support from the US and Israel.
According to a senior Hamas official, Dahlan recently established a new militia called the Fatah Executive Force to fight Hamas. The official said Dahlan's force consisted of several hundred heavily armed Fatah men.
Eyewitnesses said four Palestinians were killed in fierce fighting inside the Bet Hanun Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip. Among the victims were Eid al-Masri, and his sons, Faraj and Ibrahim.
Doctors said they were forced to close the hospital because of the fighting, which caused a power outage.
A similar gun battle erupted between Hamas and Fatah militiamen at Gaza City's Shifa Hospital, the largest medical center in the Strip, where two people were killed. One of the victims was identified as Mazen Ajour, a commander of Izaddin Kassam.
Hamas said Ajour was killed execution-style after being kidnapped by Fatah gunmen and PA security officers.
Local reporters told The Jerusalem Post that dozens of families living close to the hospital fled their homes out of fear for their lives.
The Palestinian Doctors' Union called on all militiamen to immediately withdraw from the hospitals, saying the fighting was threatening the lives of hundreds of patients. The union also appealed to the PA leadership to intervene to stop the fighting between Fatah and Hamas.
Another top Hamas operative, Muhammad Muhjez, was killed outside the home of senior Fatah official Jamal Abu Jadian in Bet Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip. Abu Jadian, who is one of the commanders of Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, was later assassinated by Hamas militiamen.
Hamas men shot and killed Yasser Baker, an officer in the PA's General Intelligence Force.
Earlier, Hamas accused Fatah militiamen of opening fire at the offices of the PA government in Gaza City. No one was hurt in the attack. In response, PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas called off the weekly cabinet meeting.
In a statement, the PA cabinet strongly condemned the shooting attack, saying it was yet another sign of the growing anarchy in the PA-controlled territories.
Hamas also accused Fatah of trying to assassinate PA Minister of Sports and Youth Bassem Naim of Hamas. A group of masked men fired several shots at his office at the ministry, but no one was hurt. The minister fled the area together with his aides and bodyguards.
Husam Abu Kainas, 26, was killed early Monday after being thrown from the 12th floor of a building in Gaza City. Hamas said he had been kidnapped a day earlier by Fatah militiamen who suspected him and his family of belonging to Hamas.
On Sunday, Muhammad Sawariki, a member of the PA's Force 17 "Presidential Guard" and a Fatah supporter, died after he was thrown from the 18th floor of another tower in Gaza City.
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