Hamas-Fatah clashes erupt on election day

Unrest erupted in a number of villages near Jenin and Hebron.

Defusing feuds between rival clans by deploying Palestinian policemen from Hebron was the most serious task undertaken by the joint Israeli-Palestinian coordination team set up especially for the Palestinian elections. Israeli security officials breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday night after the Palestinian elections had run their course without major disruptions. "There was no need for IDF intervention; things ran smoothly, the only disturbances were internal ones," a security official said. Unrest between Hamas and Fatah activists did erupt in a number of villages near Jenin and Hebron, and in some cases gunshots resulted. On Wednesday morning the coordination team - manned by Civil Administration personnel and their PA security counterparts - received a request to coordinate the entry of a group of 10 Palestinian policemen to a village near Hebron. The police were dispatched to restore order after a dispute erupted near a polling station between two clans. Palestinian media reports said clan members who are Hamas supporters threw stones at Fatah supporters. By the time the policemen had restored calm, 12 people had been wounded in the fracas, including one policeman. Later in the day, there was the need to coordinate the deployment of Palestinian policemen from Hebron again to deal with unrest in Ein Fawar, after a gun battle erupted between Hamas and Fatah members. In villages in the Jenin area, where Palestinian policemen were already deployed, local disturbances were dealt with quickly. In one village near Jenin, Hamas supporters attempted to set fire to an election booth. At checkpoints surrounding Ramallah, soldiers and security forces stood idly Wednesday morning, having little to do but check an occasional vehicle. "It's quiet," said a soldier manning the checkpoint near the Beit El military court up the road from the Ayosh Junction. At Beitunya, soldiers waved a number of trucks through the checkpoint. "Nothing happening here," said one soldier. At the nearby Ofer Prison facility, relatives and lawyers queued patiently, waiting to visit inmates. By nightfall at the joint coordination room, set up at the IDF's Judea and Samaria division headquarters, officials were still deciding whether there was a need to continue operating for another day.