Hamas terrorists effectively took control of the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday when they captured the regional headquarters of official paramilitary forces loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
At least 25 people were killed and another 62 wounded during a series of assaults and counter-assualts by Hamas and Abbas' Fatah faction. At the height of the fighting, Fatah forces fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the Gaza City home of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Hamas retaliated by attacking the home of a senior Gaza-based Fatah lawmaker.
The fighting continued unabated Monday morning, when another 10 people, including a 16-year-old boy, were killed.
Abbas has accused Hamas of attempting a coup against his overall leadership, and has suspended Fatah participation in a unity government forged just two months ago.
Hamas won last year's parliamentary election in a landslide, but was never able to exert control over the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority paramilitary police forces. In Gaza, the group remedied the problem by establishing its own 5,000-man “executive” force.
The increasingly bloody nature of the internal conflict prompted Human Rights Watch on Wednesday to accuse both Palestinian factions of committing war crimes.
In recent days, both Hamas and Fatah have taken to summarily executing captives and shooting the legs of anyone they suspect of supporting of the other side, including unarmed civilians.
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