A Palestinian protester prepares his sling to hurl stones towards Israeli troops during clashes near Jenin.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A senior Fatah official was wounded in a clash in the Gaza Strip on Friday night between supporters of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his rival, Muhammad Dahlan.
The incident occurred at al-Bureij refugee camp, Palestinian sources said, when a melee broke out during a rally marking the 28th anniversary of the assassination of the PLO’s Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad), in Tunisia.
The sources said that Dahlan’s supporters used chairs to attack Abbas loyalists attending the rally.
The senior official who was wounded was identified as Abdullah Abu Samhadanah.
Following the clash, the rally was called off, the sources said.
Dahlan, a former PA security commander in the Gaza Strip, has been at loggerheads with Abbas for several years now. At the request of Abbas, Fatah expelled Dahlan from its ranks four years ago.
Abbas has accused Dahlan of conspiring against him, embezzlement and murder and the exiled Dahlan has since been living in the United Arab Emirates, where he is closely associated with the ruling family.
In the latest incident, sources close to Dahlan accused Abu Samhadanah of making derogatory remarks against him, claiming he said that Dahlan and his supporters will end up in the “dustbin of history.”
In response, several Dahlan supporters began throwing chairs at Abu Samhadanah and pelted his car with stones as he tried to flee the area.
In another development, Hamas’s armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, has deployed members of its elite force in various parts of the Gaza Strip, sources said, adding that they have replaced the civilian police force, which has disappeared from the streets.
Eyewitnesses said they were surprised to see the heavily armed members of the Hamas force patrolling Gaza City in broad daylight.
The force has until now operated only at night.
They said that the Hamas security officers were seen conducting thorough searches of vehicles and checking the identities of Palestinians. Sources said Hamas’s decision to deploy the force in the Gaza Strip was aimed at sending a warning message to its rivals.
Last week, Hamas banned a conference organized by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and other factions.
The conference was supposed to call for an end to the power struggle between Hamas and the PA.
A spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry said that the deployment of the elite force was part of a drill to increase the efficiency of the police force. But other sources said the move was also aimed at sending a message to Israel not to carry out any operation inside the Gaza Strip, one of which it claimed to have thwarted.