In a surprise move, Fatah activists from Jerusalem announced that they would boycott the parliamentary elections. The activists claimed that the move was in protest against Israel's decision to "ban" Arab residents of the city from voting.
However, Fatah officials privately admitted that they were unhappy with the make-up of the Fatah list for the elections, accusing the party's leadership of failing to place Jerusalem representatives at the top.
"We will boycott the elections and we won't allow any elections to take place in Jerusalem," Hatem Abdel Kader, a top Fatah leader told The Jerusalem Post. "This means that the elections will have to be postponed." Abdel Kader and other Fatah candidates in the city announced that they would not run in the elections.
Disgruntled Fatah activists in several other areas have also vowed to prevent the PA from holding the elections. They accused the PA leadership of seeking to marginalize "young guard" representatives of Fatah, saying the party's list ignored many grassroots activists.
Over the past 48 hours, Fatah gunmen occupied several PA government buildings in various parts of the Gaza Strip, demanding jobs and money. Among the buildings targeted are the ministries of interior, economy, communications and sports.
Fatah gunmen also blocked the entrance to the Rafah crossing, preventing passengers from arriving at the terminal. Senior PA officials who tried to enter the area were turned back.
The PA's ambassador to Pakistan, Yussef al-Rabi, was forced to flee the scene together with his wife after the gunmen opened fire at their car, slightly injuring their driver. The gunmen confiscated Rabi's diplomatic passport and smashed the windows of his car.
On Friday, about 100 PA security officers went on the rampage at the Rafah terminal in protest against the death of one of their colleagues during a clash with gangsters in Gaza City. The officers fired into the air and took up positions at the terminal, forcing unarmed European monitors to flee to a nearby IDF base. No casualties were reported.
The border crossing was reopened seven hours later after the attackers agreed to evacuate the area. Also on Friday, Fathi Mushtahi, a 14-year-old boy was killed when dozens of gunmen attacked a PA police station in Gaza City in an attempt to free one of their friends, who had been detained a day earlier.
The latest upsurge in internecine fighting came as PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas began on Saturday a tour of some oil-rich Gulf countries to seek financial aid to the PA. Abbas's decision to travel abroad amid the growing anarchy drew sharp criticism from some Palestinians.
One of them, newspaper editor Hafez Barghouti, said: "I don't understand how Abbas can travel abroad under the current circumstances and on the eve of the elections. I dare to say that an authority that cares more about what's published about it in the media than the killing of its citizens and the widespread anarchy is an authority that should dissolve itself."
Barghouti, like many other Palestinians, compared the situation in the Palestinian territories to war-torn Somalia. "The recurring attacks on Palestinian Authority institutions and the kidnappings of foreigners makes it look as if we are competing with the warlords and militias in Somalia over who would win the "Nobel Prize for Anarchy,'" he said.
Dr. Jamal Majaideh, a prominent political analyst from the Gaza Strip, said the situation in the Palestinian territories was "similar to Taliban-controlled areas in Afghanistan and farms controlled by Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi in Iraq."
Referring to the kidnapping of foreigners in the Gaza Strip, Majaideh said: "It's like sitting in a Hollywood studio and watching an action film about gangs, murder and abductions. It's sad that the Palestinian Authority isn't doing anything to stop the kidnappings."
He pointed out that until now no one has been detained in connection with the kidnapping of 17 foreigners in the Gaza Strip in recent months.