Source Pravda.Ru

Internal Palestinian violence rages across Gaza Strip

Factional violence exploded across Gaza City on Sunday, with gunmen shooting up the Palestinian foreign minister's convoy and militants launching mortar shells at President Mahmoud Abbas' office in a daylong wave of attacks that killed three and wounded many others.

A truce deal was announced at a press conference after midnight, but armed militants continued patrolling the streets and the volatile coastal territory remained tense.

Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh accused his rival Abbas of inflaming the violent political crisis by calling for early elections and said his Hamas group would boycott the poll. Abbas, a moderate from Fatah, called for new elections to resolve the political deadlock that has paralyzed the Palestinian government since the hardline Hamas militant group won January parliamentary elections.

Hamas' electoral victory split the Palestinian government, with Abbas seeking peace with Israel and Hamas refusing to even recognize the Jewish state's existence. The political tensions have repeatedly turned violent, with the chaos spiraling out of control since unknown gunmen killed the three young sons of a Fatah-allied security chief last week.

Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar's motorcade came under fire as it drove near the foreign ministry in Gaza City. Zahar was unharmed, but the attack unleashed a ferocious gunbattle that lasted more than an hour in downtown Gaza, the worst fighting since unity government talks broke down late last month. Medical officials said a 19-year-old woman was killed in the crossfire, reports AP.

Zahar blamed top Fatah leaders for the attack on him, saying they were "fully responsible" for what happened "and what will happen."

Sporadic fighting erupted into the evening. Hamas gunmen opened fire at a demonstration of tens of thousands of Fatah supporters in northern Gaza, wounding at least one person, and unknown militants fired at least two mortars at Abbas' office in Gaza City. Hours later, they launched another mortar shell.

Five pro-Fatah security men and a 45-year-old woman were wounded, officials said. Abbas was in the West Bank at the time.

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