Israel will not stand idly by and allow Fatah to slaughter Hamas members in the West Bank like Hamas did to Fatah last week in the Gaza Strip, a high-ranking defense official said Saturday. According to the official, Fatah was in the process of taking over Hamas installations and buildings throughout the West Bank in retaliation to Hamas's violent takeover last week of the Gaza Strip. In the meantime, the IDF said that the situation in the West Bank was relatively calm. In Ramallah, hundreds of Fatah gunmen took over the Palestinian parliament and other Hamas-controlled government offices, telling staffers that those with ties to Hamas would not be allowed to return.
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At the parliament, several hundred Fatah supporters chanted, "Hamas Out," while gunmen climbed on the roof of the building and fired in the air. They planted Fatah and Palestinian flags on the building.
They also whisked Hassan Kreisheh, the deputy speaker, a Hamas ally, out of the building, but were prevented from pushing him into a car. The gunmen planted Fatah flags and Palestinian banners on the buildings they had taken over.
Many government employees tied to Hamas had not shown up for work on Saturday, the start of the work week in the West Bank, apparently fearing reprisals. Other Fatah activists took over the Education Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office.
"We will not let the situation get out of control in the West Bank like it did in Gaza," an IDF officer in the Central Command said. Hamas, the IDF officer said, was not the dominant party in the West Bank like it was in Gaza. Instead, Fatah was stronger militarily in cities like Ramallah, Nablus and Jenin.
"Hamas is not as powerful in the West Bank as it is in Gaza," the IDF officer said, adding that the IDF's presence and freedom of operations throughout the territory added to the terror group's difficulty in building up a strong military force.
AP contributed to the report.